OLNEY, Ill. (WTHI) - News 10's Matt Gregory has the story of one Olney veteran who became a hero to a
"If you haven't been there, imagination don't get close to it, because that is one of the roughest deals you can live with," Veteran Earl Scherer said.
Memories of the World War II weigh heavily on Earl Scherer.
It's been more than 60 years since his boots touched the sands of Omaha Beach in Normandy.
Now, his boots are replaced with a pair of loafers and the memory of a life he changed.
Earl's story starts a few weeks after the allied forces D-Day invasion of Europe.
"The only thing we could do was dig in, because all we had was the ocean behind us—no way to go back."
Earl, then a 26-year-old Sergeant in the 18th Ordnance Company of the United State Army pushed on through Europe with the combined Allied Forces under General Dwight Eisenhower.
"We went through Paris, and, from there, we went to Belgium and from there to the Netherlands," Earl said.
Maastricht, Holland to be exact.
A Dutch city ravaged by Nazi occupation.
When the Allied Forces arrived the streets were desolate and lined with starving people.
One evening, just outside the encampment Earl was in, a line of 6 starving women and a little boy waited.
"I went over and gave that little boy—I had a mess cup about half full, I dumped it into his beat up old kettle, and I said you come back tomorrow and ill have some more for you," Earl stated.
That little boy was Bert Dahlmans.
Earl would feed him everyday for the rest of his time in Maastricht.
After the Allied Forces moved on, he kept a photograph of Bert with him.
"I often wondered if that boy lived or died," said Earl.
53 years later, a Dutch couple that Earl met set out to find the boy in the picture.
In 1997, Earl received a phone call based out of the Netherlands, from the little boy in the picture: Bert Dahlmans.
After several phone calls, they were reunited in the city that Earl helped to liberate.
"Bert told me, he said, ‘if it wasn't for you, I'd have starved to death,'" Earl said.
Earl and Bert would stay in contact up until Bert's death in 2002.
Even though the meeting stirred difficult memories of World War II, Earl's fondest way of remembering his work as a soldier is to remember the life he saved.
"I often think of that meeting after 53 years, but, you know, it was worth every bit of it," Earl finished.
- MORE INFORMATION ON THE BOOK | Earl's Story
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