While doing my research for my book "Deadly Decision," I had been trying to find information on Arthur St. Pierre, one of the gunners on my Dad's crew (Pete Val Preda, pilot, Crew 601). Arthur and my Dad were good friends. Yvette St. Pierre and my Mom traveled together by train to Florida in October, 1943. The 492nd had just returned from Blythe, California and was in Orlando for Advanced Combat Training (ACT). During that time the guys were allowed to take a one week leave to spend with their wives. Arthur lost his life on the Politz mission, June 20, 1944. I had been unsuccessful in locating any family members as St. Pierre is a very common name in the New England area.
In August of 2009 Lynne and I spent the weekend at her brother's cottage in New Hampshire. On Saturday morning we went to the local donut shop for coffee. While standing in line, I saw the rack of newspapers and picked up the New Hampshire Union Leader. On the front page was an article about the upcoming dedication of a World War II memorial in the city of Manchester. We decided to attend.
The writer of the article, John Clayton, would be speaking at the dedication. I wrote an e-mail to him, telling of my interest in finding Arthur's family. I was hoping he would put my contact information in any follow-up article he wrote. He did not answer my e-mail, and to be honest I wasn't surprised. The following Sunday we drove two and a half hours to Veterans' Memorial Park in Manchester. There was a very good turnout for the dedication. The monument listed some twelve thousand veterans' names. Over three hundred had been killed in action. John was one of the last speakers. As he delivered his remarks, he mentioned Arthur St. Pierre by name! I was pleasantly surprised to say the least. After the ceremony Lynne and I introduced ourselves. He said he was hoping we would be there. He told us the corner of Maple and Willow Streets is called Arthur St. Pierre Square. We drove over and saw the granite monument with an inlaid bronze plaque. I wish my Dad had known about this. It is a fitting tribute to his friend.
John also told us he would send a copy of an article he had written about St. Pierre's monument. We received it a couple of days later. The article answered a question I've had since I began researching the 492nd BG. I wondered if he and Yvette had any children. If there was a "Gold Star Kid," I wanted that person to know they were "cousins" in our 492nd family. But that is not the case. The article John sent me listed Arthur's next of kin. They had no children and his siblings have all passed away.