Piece of World War II soldier’s uniform found in Russia, returned to Mid-Michigan
After more than 70 years, a piece of a World War II soldier’s uniform has returned to his family after it was found in Russia several years ago.
CLIO, Mich. (WJRT) - After more than 70 years, a piece of a World War II soldier’s uniform has returned to his family after it was found in Russia several years ago.
The soldier, Edward Fejedelem who passed away in 2010, served in the U.S. Army during the war. His son, David, said that he began his service at the age of 19 in 1943.
“In 1943, he like hundreds of thousands of other young men went into the Army,” David Fejedelem said. “He was stationed here stateside originally as an airplane mechanic and then in the fall of 1944 he was transferred to Europe as an infantryman.”
Edward Fejedelem was sent to Germany where he fought on the front line during the Battle of the Bulge. On December 16, 1944 he became separated from his American unit with several soldiers after German forces closed in.
He was later captured by the German forces and was taken as a prisoner to a prisoner of war camp in Germany.
“He had been starved," David Fejedelem said. "He told me his hips looked like wings sticking out. You can see all the ribs, stomach bloated.”
Edward Fejedelem spent several months in the camp before it was was liberated by Russian forces in the spring of 1945. He returned to the United States in June 1945.
During his time spent in Germany, a piece of his uniform broke off and it’s that piece that was located and later returned.
“Somewhere along those lines, he had this Army lock tag bracelet that a lot of soldiers had at that point in time and I suspect it was taken by the Germans and then somehow it ended up in the Russian hands,” David Fejedelem said.
The story of the bracelet itself spans decades with many questions of how it got from Germany where he was in the 1940s to Russia where it was found several years ago.
“This bracelet was found on the shore of the Volga River in Astrakhan, Russia,” David Fejedelum said. "Which is about 2,500 miles away from his POW camp.”
A fisherman found it and it was turned over to a local government office and in 2018, a Russian organization sought to find the man who it belonged to.
It took many months and a few years of work but it finally did get back to where it belonged.
While Edward was not alive to see it again, his son was grateful to have this token of his father’s service back home in Clio.
“Finally in February of 2020, a year and a half later, this arrived in an envelope from Russia," he said. "So we have it back. His name is on the back of it. And again, we have no idea how it made it to Russia but we’re glad to have it back.”
And on this Veterans Day, David Fejedelum wanted to share this story so that people can remember the sacrifice that soldiers made all those years ago.
“I think it’s important that we don’t forget," he said. "There’s a lot of folks nowadays that don’t realize what happened during World War II, that generation has been nicknamed the greatest generation, that was done for a reason. People sacrificed a lot.”
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