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Your Story: Answers from My Dad’s Shipmate

My father, Simon Mostofsky, was killed in action shortly after D-Day. He was a pharmacist mate caring for the wounded on an LST on its way back to Britain. I never knew the name (actually it’s a number) of the ship he was on, but for some reason I did know it had not been sunk. 

In 2010, Ancestry.com sent me a hint for a record that led me to the National Personnel Record Center, Military Personnel Records in St. Louis. http://www.archives.gov/st-louis/military-personnel/ They directed me to the Library of Congress, and I was sent the records identifying the ship as LST 280. When I received the information I did an online search for the LST 280, and found a blog with two email addresses. One responded, amazingly by a gentleman, H. R. Shawhan,  who was not only a shipmate, but knew my father well, credited my father with having saved his life during a serious illness,  and actually spoke to him just minutes before the fatal torpedo hit. 

I was less than a year old when this happened, but receiving this information was very emotional.  I did try to arrange a visit with him, but could never get a date. I believe the incident itself was too emotional for him to handle. I am attaching the letter he sent me which is attached to my father’s profile on Ancestry.com.

Steve Mostofsky
Greensboro, NC

A Hero Connected

I posted a military page in my Kelly Family Tree for a second cousin, twice removed—Sylvester Milas Bolick. He was not in my direct line but I was fascinated by him because he was killed in World War II, is buried in Belgium and had received a Purple Heart. 

In February, I got an e-mail out of the blue from a man in Belgium who had found the public military page I had set up for Sylvester last year. As a teenager, this Belgian man adopted the grave of Sylvester Milas Bolick, a fallen soldier of WWII who was buried at the American Cemetery and Memorial of Henri-Chapelle, Belgium “to whom (among others) I owe the freedom and liberty I enjoy today.” This young man did some research through the NARA and other places trying to find information about that man whose grave he has tended twice a year since he was twelve-years old. (He will be 30 in June.) Prior to that, his godfather had tended the grave. So, out of curiosity, this Belgian man has after many years finally decided to try and find more information on Sylvester.

The story does not end here. I have found probably about six or seven cousins through my research in Ancestry, including one who was a niece to Sylvester Milas Bolick. I put her in contact with this Belgian man, and now this Belgian man has passed along all of the research he has found to Sylvester’s family and me and has even sent us color photographs of Sylvester’s headstone and all the NARA information he received (which the family did not have).  

Sylvester’s name and photo and known history have now been added to the Adoptiegraven database  which we were not even aware of. 

Rhea Kelly
Kelly Family Tree