REUNITED Visit with war buddy sparks Elizabeth man's memories


By ERIC SLAGLE Daily News Staff Writer Sometimes it takes a journey and an old friend to jog your memory. Case in point: Walter Levdansky of Elizabeth fought in World War II, but it was something he seldom talked about after he got out of the Army. Having been through some tough experiences, fighting through the Battle of the Bulge as a staff sergeant in 393rd of the 99th Infantry Division, he did what a lot of veterans


from that era did. They came back to the states, got married, bought homes and had kids. Life went on and memories of battles fought overseas were mothballed. Walter Levdansky's three sons all said the same thing:  He never talked to us about World War II. That's why they wanted to support their father when he told them he wanted to see the World War II Memorial in Washington, D.C. The last few years, hes been wanting to see the National World War II Memorial, said son Dave Levdansky , who is a state representative from Forward Township. I said, We've See REUNITED , Page 4

Continued from Page 1 got to get him there. The National World War II Memorial is located on the eastern end of the Reflecting Pool in the National Mall in Washington, D.C., between the Lincoln Memorial and the Washington Monument. It opened in May 2004. Last October, Walter Levdansky , with his sons Dave and Jim and a nephew, Tom Godlesky, traveled to the capital. By all accounts, it was a remarkable trip. It rained the first day of their visit but on day two, just as they were parking their vehicle to set off for the memorial, the clouds broke and the sun appeared. Walter had worn his VFW shirt and medals, which turned out to be a great idea. The outfit was an instant icebreaker. Veterans and other bystandersand there were some pretty notable bystanders in that crowd that day, including U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu from Louisiana and former Sen. Bob Dolestruck up conversations with the elder Levdansky about his service. Immediately after the visit, Walter Levdansky started talking about his Army days and remembering the fellows he served with. There was one name that rose to the top. Bob Walter. Walter Levdansky wondered whatever happened to the guy. Theyd gone through basic training together and shipped off to Belgium for what would become known as the Battle of the Bulge in the winter of 1944. Throughout their time in the service the two had been close friends. Walter Levdansky recalled the two carrying an injured comrade out of the woods to safety, then dining on what seemed like a gourmet meal at the time, but in reality was a rotten potato. But then, suddenly, the bond was broken. In December of that year, Walter Levdansky was taken to a hospital in England for treatment of frozen feet. He returned to his unit, but by the time that happened, Bob Walter was gone for treatment of a war injury. Walter Levdansky asked his nephew if he could help him find out what ever had happened to his pal. The nephew went home and did some research on the Internet. He called his uncle back with a lead. It was an article that appeared in a veterans magazine. Bob Walter



was the subject. The family contacted the person who wrote the article who, in turn, put the veterans back in touch with each other. Bob Walter, who also is 85, was recovering from back surgery when he got his first phone call from his old friend. This spring, Walter Levdansky and his sons traveled to Bob Walters home in Fostoria, Ohio, for a reunion. I thought it was never going to happen,the Ohio man said.I never thought Id see him again. It didnt take long for the memories to start flowing. He just opened right up,said Bob Walter. Walter Levdansky said,I recognized him immediately. Since the visit, the two have remained close. Now, they talk often on the phone,said Bob Levdansky , who accompanied his father and brothers on the reunion trip to Fostoria. The two hope to get together again this summer. Bob Walter may stop in for a visit, perhaps on his way to visit the memorial in Washington, D.C., if his and Walter Levdanskys health holds up. Last year, Bob Walter had open heart surgery, in addition to his back operation last year. Walter Levdansky had a heart attack last month and received a pacemaker. Im hoping,said Bob Walter.I promised him Id be there this year. Walter Levdansky hopes his buddy stops back in, too. It may help jog even more memories. Memories of the past are fragile things, said Walter Levdansky , who continues to wonder about other old Army acquaintances. There was a William Powell, a Sgt. White and another all-butgone memory of a guy named Mesner. Maybe more names or information will turn up during the next reunion. Jim Levdansky , meanwhile, said his fathers discovering his old friend and World War II memories is inspiring young people. Jim Levdansky , who teaches American history at South Park Middle School, said he journalized the experience he, his brothers and father had in Washington and on the trips to Ohio. He presented his work to his students as an example of a way to do historical research that goes beyond what they read in textbooks. It must have been a good example. Two of his students had historical essays that were placed in Weekly Readers online Current Events magazine. My dad,said Jim Levdansky .He inspired the kids I teach.Im glad to be part of that inspiration,Walter Levdansky said.

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