Lawrence Edge died in 1944 in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. He was 22 years old.
When Lawrence’s brother Arlie heard that President Trump called soldiers suckers and losers, Arlie wrote a letter to his son, Russel. He asked Russel to share it with the family. He wanted us to know that Lawrence was a patriot, not a loser. I asked my uncle if I could share the story here. He agreed.
In the summer of 1947 Louis Rerachi traveled to Kiowa, OK, to meet the Edge family.
“Louis said that we deserved to know how our beloved Lawrence perished. He came from Chicago to tell us.”
In 1944, German forces were trying to break out of the position in which they were trapped. Allied forces were pushing back, and as the German Army was retreating, they set land mines to slow the advancing Allied forces.
Lawrence and Louis were in the Combat Engineers, called the Rail Splitters. It was their assignment to disarm the land mines. There were three soldiers assigned to a team.
“Lawrence and Louis successfully completed their assignment and returned to camp. There, they found out that one squad failed to deploy. There was one land mine left to disarm. It was 10:00 at night and bitter cold.”
A captain, whose name Arlie couldn’t recall, “asked for two volunteers to go with him to disarm the mine.”
Lawrence and Louis skipped supper and went back out because they knew that “the Allied forces were going to be coming through at daybreak.”
They located the mine, which had lead trip wires radiating out from it.
Lawrence was bent over to disarm the mine, and the captain was beside him. Louis was standing slightly to the right. When the captain kneeled down beside Lawrence, he stuck his poleaxe into the ground.
Because the ground was frozen, the ice cracked and tripped the mine.
Back at camp, the soldiers heard the explosion and knew what had happened. They rushed to render aid but could only aid Louis.
“Louis was still conscious and told them to put all the body parts in bags because he wanted his best buddy’s body to have a decent burial. And then he said something that as a 13-year-old boy I couldn’t understand but as an older adult I now can. He said, ‘Lawrence was the lucky one.’”
Louis lost an arm and a leg, and “the right side of his face was gone, glass eye, no ear, mostly shunned by society. People couldn’t look at him, he was so disfigured. This, folks, is the casualties of war.
“Our mother never got over Lawrence’s death. She could not get over her firstborn dying cold and hungry. Sometimes when she’d come back from hanging out clothes or gathering the dry ones from the clothesline, her soft blue eyes would be wet from grieving.
“Lawrence was more than just a soldier. He was a hero. He gave his life so others would live.”