OKLAHOMA CITY (KFOR) — Operation Market Garden was a bold attempt to gain ground on enemy forces during World War II.
More than 17,000 allies were either killed, wounded or taken prisoner.
Tech Sgt. Orville Bruce Journey was a flight mechanic during that operation in 1944. His plane was shot down.
His family sent a telegram in October 1944, saying he was missing in action. Then, months later, a wire arrived stating their beloved family member was killed.
“Those are letters that my mother mailed and were returned unopened, and they’ve never been opened. I couldn’t read one if I had to,” younger brother Dwight Journey said.
Dwight Journey never forgot his oldest brother. He gathers memorabilia. One new piece he can now add to his collection was just found in Holland two months ago.
“There’s a group of 10 volunteers looking for any kind of evidence of the crash, and all of a sudden there was a pile of sand being dropped next to me by a small crane and there was a small piece of metal sticking out,” said Royal Netherlands Air Force 1st Lt. Willem Van der Steen.
That metal piece ended up being a dog tag belonging to the late Tech Sgt. Journey, near the same place where he died 75 years ago.
“All of a sudden we had a dog tag in our hand. We knew we had found something very special,” he said.
Van der Steen flew to Oklahoma on his own time to hand-deliver this precious memento to the family.
“It’s important they have that last piece of evidence of Bruce in their home back here in the U.S. That was my job, and I think we succeeded,” he said.
“All it is is a little piece of aluminum. It has no value [or] meaning in and of itself except the symbolism of what it means to all of us who’ve experienced the disadvantages of war,” Dwight Journey said.
A journey has finally ended for a man who died for freedom 75 years ago.
Dwight said he’s going to hang the dog tag in a boxed frame where he can still open and feel it.