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University News

A Daughter Shares Her Journey to Her Dad’s World War II Capture Site

Spina family

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.

Living History

Spina Stacey Web post featured
Stacey Spina

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.’”

Aerial view of GCU.

About Georgian Court University

Founded in 1908 and sponsored by the Sisters of Mercy, Georgian Court University is Central and South Jersey’s only Catholic university. GCU is a comprehensive, coeducational university with a strong liberal arts core and a historic special concern for women. As a forward-thinking university that supports diversity and academic excellence, GCU is known for expanding possibility for more than 2,200 students of all faiths and backgrounds in 35+ undergraduate majors and 10+ graduate programs. The GCU Lions compete in 14 NCAA Division II sports in the Central Atlantic Collegiate Conference (CACC). In 2020, GCU was named a Best Value College by Money.com and a Best Bang for the Buck (Northeast) by Washington Monthly. High student retention and graduation rates also make GCU a Top Performer on Social Mobility on U.S. News & World Reports rankings. The main campus is located in Lakewood, New Jersey, on the picturesque former George Jay Gould estate, a National Historic Landmark. Georgian Court, which is accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education, also serves students at other locations, such as GCU at HazletGCU at Rowan College of South Jersey–Cumberland Campus, and through multiple online certificate and degree programs.

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