World War II helmet returned from France to Cherokee County - ABC 33/40 - Birmingham News, Weather, Sports

World War II helmet returned from France to Cherokee County

Posted: Updated:
CEDAR BLUFF, Ala. -

Seventy years after an American soldier came home from World War II, his helmet returned to the United States.

Chris Abney Dendy currently has her father's helmet on display at her Cherokee County home.  It's an item she didn't know existed until recently, and she never expected to be able to hold it in her hands.

"To know that he put it on his head and wore it, it's like being there with him," she said.

Her father, William Luther Abney, Jr., died in 1997 and is buried in La Fayette, Georgia, where he later became a lawyer, local politician and probate judge.

A retired dentist from Paris, Michel Desplat, recently inherited the helmet from his uncle before beginning a search for the rightful owner.  Desplat managed to trace Abney to the small Georgia town after discovering the solder's name inside the helmet earlier this year.

"He found our father's name inside the helmet here, William L. Abney, and his army I.D. number, and he went online and tracked it down," Dendy said.

She was surprised to learn France has a public database that lists many of the American soldiers who served there during the war.  It listed Abney's hometown and registration, and from there Desplat found cemetery records which named Abney's children.

Desplat located an address for one of the daughters, who still lives in La Fayette, and mailed a letter.  However, Dendy said that it was her sister's old work address and had not been used for 20 years.

Fortunately, one of the benefits of being in a small town where your father was probate judge for 31 years means you're probably well-known around town.

"One of the people at the post office knew my sister, and recognized the name, so even though it was in the dead letter file, she forwarded it to my sister and it's just been a wonderful thing," Dendy said.

The sisters got in touch with Desplat via email and after getting a correct mailing address, he quickly shipped the helmet overseas..  He declined to accept payment for the shipping costs, writing "we are indebted to the men like your father."

Dendy said she is still curious how her father made it back from the war without his helmet, and wonders what happened to it before it made its way into the hands of Desplat.

Although she will likely never get those answers, Dendy said it was overwhelming to simply have her father's helmet.

"Receiving the helmet was really an emotional experience for me and my sisters because it's like having a small piece of Dad back with us," Dendy said.

  • Birmingham Area NewsMore>>

  • Windows of Downtown Ensley

    Windows of Downtown Ensley

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:33 PM EDT2014-08-22 01:33:21 GMT
    Local art is helping to renew downtown Ensley. In September you will be able to walk down 19th Street and see for yourself.Last May, the Ensley Merchant Association and REV Birmingham announced plans to enhance 19th Street with an arts program called The Windows of Downtown Ensley. Store windows will showcase original artwork from area artists at participating merchants each month. The initiative is being organized by Kuumba Community Art, an Ensley-based art program with special focus on you...More >>
    Local art is helping to renew downtown Ensley. In September you will be able to walk down 19th Street and see for yourself.Last May, the Ensley Merchant Association and REV Birmingham announced plans to enhance 19th Street with an arts program called The Windows of Downtown Ensley. Store windows will showcase original artwork from area artists at participating merchants each month. The initiative is being organized by Kuumba Community Art, an Ensley-based art program with special focus on you...More >>
  • Irondale police officer explains his department's policies responding to calls

    Irondale police officer explains his department's policies responding to calls

    Thursday, August 21 2014 9:25 PM EDT2014-08-22 01:25:38 GMT
    There are a lot of moving parts when an officer responds to a call for help. The officer has to pay attention to what's happening around him, who needs the help and who's causing the problem. All police departments train their men and women. It's up to them to use that training.More >>
    There are a lot of moving parts when an officer responds to a call for help. The officer has to pay attention to what's happening around him, who needs the help and who's causing the problem. All police departments train their men and women. It's up to them to use that training.More >>
  • Vestavia Hills schools launch new drug testing program

    Vestavia Hills schools launch new drug testing program

    Thursday, August 21 2014 6:31 PM EDT2014-08-21 22:31:52 GMT
    Hundreds of parents are taking a step to make sure their child says no to drugs. Vestavia Hills middle and high schools have launched a drug testing program.More >>
    Hundreds of parents are taking a step to make sure their child says no to drugs. Vestavia Hills middle and high schools have launched a drug testing program.More >>
Most Popular
Stories
Videos
loading...