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Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Cousin Clifford Crawls Out of the Gutter

In the family of E. Louise Lindinger, it was always said that her cousin Clifford had "died in the gutter" when a young man in the 1930s.

Curious about my spunky cousin, who was born decades before me, I'd press my mother for details about his death.

"All we know is he died in the gutter," she'd say.

"But how do we know that," I'd mumble, "if no one ever bothered to look for him?"
There was no great effort taken to find Cousin Clifford until the death of his sister Ruth. She left a half-million-dollar estate, which made it imperative to positively rule Clifford out as an heir. Lawyers tracked him down, and confirmed that he had died in Belfast, Maine, in 1982 (I suspect he was this Clifford). His death certificate showed that he was a veteran, but Lindinger doubted that he'd served with distinction.
I was sure Clifford had received less than an honorable discharge. It had never occurred to me that I might find even one shining moment in my cousin's life. But I was about to uncover it.

In May 1943, Clifford enlisted in the Army. His 28th Infantry Regiment, a unit known as the Black Lions, saw 11 months of combat, participating in four major European campaigns.

Before receiving his discharge in October 1945, Clifford had earned seven medals. Seven medals! Among them was the Bronze Star Medal. The Bronze Star. [Link]

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