Ralph Bruno was only 19 years old when he and his fellow soldiers were captured by the Germans in September 1944 in Pont-a-Mousson, France, across the Moselle River from Germany. In April 1945, he escaped, just days before he would have been liberated at the end of World War II.
Seven decades later, Stacey Spina, M.S.W., L.S.W., is sharing her father’s story and her family’s journey to better understand what it meant to be a prisoner of war. Ms. Spina, a supervisor at Georgian Court University’s Mary Joseph Cunningham Library, will present “Marching in My Father’s Footsteps: Visiting the Site of Capture,” at 6:00 p.m. on Tuesday, November 13, in GCU’s Little Theatre. The event is free and open to the public, but reservations are required at georgian.edu/events. No tickets will be issued at the door.
Ms. Spina says that during her childhood, her father was quite open about what happened during the war. “When we were growing up ” she says, “he gave us a lot of rich detail about his experiences.”
A recent trip to Europe delivered new historical perspective. In early 2018, Ms. Spina’s daughter, Elizabeth, then a senior at Arcadia University in Glenside, PA, was studying abroad in Spain. That that offered an opportunity for Ms. Spina to visit her daughter and also find the spot where her father was captured in France. Her son, Adam, joined them, and they were able to discover the location.
She will share her journey and some of her father’s artifacts during the presentation.
“We have some of his writing and photographs,” she says of her father, “and we did some videotaping on the trip.” One of the more personal artifacts from her father’s experience was a business card from a pub in England the troops visited before shipping out to France.
“They made bets about when the war would be over,” she says, “and put their names and the dates on the back of the business card. They said the man who was closest would buy the first round ‘when we’re together again.’”