An 80-Year Mystery Solved—Say Hello to Jimmy
I’d like to introduce you to Jimmy…
How do I even begin to share this extraordinary development in my mother's story?
How do I tell of how, 80 years after an American fighter pilot was lost over Germany during World War II, my mom is still touching lives and helping bring healing and closure to a family an ocean away?
I’ll do my best.
One of the stories in the novel about my mother's true story of growing up in Nazi Germany tells how she witnessed an aerial dogfight between an American fighter plane and a Luftwaffe plane. She also told me how she saw the American pilot bail from his plane when it was hit. He released his parachute, but it didn’t open in time. Yes, she witnessed him plunge into the earth to his death. It shook her, and she never forgot.
This American soldier now has a name.
James Asbury Scarboro lived in Dublin, Georgia. He was 22 years old. He had a mother and father, and a younger brother and sister, Donald and Mary Faith.
I found his name after some intense online detective work through military archives, searching American servicemen who were lost during World War II near the town of Ampleben where my mom lived as a teenager. There was only one. When I read his name, I was shaking.
What makes this story even more amazing? I found his closest living relative and reached out to her. And we've been corresponding.
All these years later, though she never knew him, Catherine has always felt a deep connection to “Uncle Jimmy,” as she calls him. She even named her son after him. Of all his relatives, she is the one who went with her mother, Mary Faith, to add his name to a wall of remembrance. She is the one who treasures his letters and personal effects from the war. She is the one who never gave up trying to find out what really happened to Jimmy. Other men on the same flight mission only reported that they lost contact with Jimmy and kept radioing him with no response. His family wondered for years what happened. And now they know the rest of this sad story.
That I would find Catherine is more than luck or chance. It’s a divine appointment.
From the sounds of it, Jimmy was another extraordinary human being, just like my mom. He loved to fish and hunt, had a few girlfriends, and danced the Jitterbug. And he adored his siblings.
After finding the archives and connecting with his niece, I realize I have a few missing details in the book, but what remains true is that it really happened. This story is true. Most importantly, this story has a name. And now I, too, feel a deep connection to him.
Say hi to my mom for me, Jimmy.
James Asbury Scarboro
September 23, 1922 – March 23, 1944
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