8/08/2011

WWII Diary returned to San Francisco family


The words of Delmar Grenz have finally made it home.
Retired Hawera couple Dougal and Barbara Kerrisk personally delivered the World War II diary their family has kept for 69 years to widow Kathy Grenz and three of her children in San Francisco recently. It completed a journey that started on a Wellington wharf in 1942 when Dougal Kerrisk's late brother, Gordon, found the diary while on guard duty.
Since the Taranaki Daily News tracked down the Grenz family in June, the story has made headlines in the United States, with Mr Kerrisk being filmed giving the diary to Mrs Grenz, who travelled from Idaho to her son David's home to receive it.
"I think I'm gonna cry," Kathy Grenz said on Idaho television. "I feel like I have a part of him again."
David Grenz said his mother's poor eyesight meant she just wanted to hold her late husband's diary, written when he was 17 during the bloody battle of Guadalcanal.
"She was just all emotional, just shaking. This has been a wonderful experience for her."
Mr Grenz read the diary for his family audience, including two of his sisters and his nieces and nephews, including one following his grandfather's footsteps by serving as a US Navy corpsman in Afghanistan.
"I wasn't prepared for the impact. There was this emotional buildup as I read and I got to a point where I got choked up and couldn't read any more.
"It was like for that Sunday afternoon we had our dad back for a while and that was wonderful."
Familiar with his father's handwriting and speech patterns, Mr Grenz had no problem interpreting the faded words and even offered insight into how the diary may have been "lost".
"He was desperate to become a raider. The raiders were like the Navy Seals, the guys who go in first.
"They had told them: `You have to get rid of your personal letters, no diaries or anything'."
His father was also "torn up" about choosing between his first wife Margaret, to whom he was married during the war, and staying in the navy.
"You could see he was crying as he wrote that because the writing was stained."
"He states `This diary has to stop now, we're going back'."
The Kerrisks spent the afternoon with the Grenz family, before David and Kathy showed them San Francisco the next day.
Kathy Grenz has returned to Idaho while her son is transcribing the diary on to a computer to provide copies for family members and interested parties.
"Whether she wants to keep it or maybe one of the museums might be interested, we'll see how that plays out," Mr Grenz said.
He wrote the Kerrisks a special message for returning the diary his family had never known existed. "I wrote, `From the bottom of my heart, thank you for bringing our father home to us'. I think that says it all."


4 comments:

Alida said...

Love this story!!

Princess Sarah said...

This is a great story. Thanks for sharing, blessings.

His Unfailing Love

Connie said...

That's a really great story! Thanks for sharing it with us. My dad was a Navy man and served during the occupation after WWII... mostly in China, but he also visited the Middle East, Panama, and Australia, which he loved so much that he almost moved there permanently! I am glad we have some of his keepsakes from his military time to share with our kids since it was so important to him. I am sure this family feels the same about the found diary.

Marja said...

Wonderful That must have been amazing to read this diary after all those years. Great story