Gene Brissey's True Life Account of the Missing Dog Tags
|I don't know exactly where to
start. This story has been around a bit and I think that
I have read two versions on your mail call. Where they
came from I can't be sure. I know the Museum in Loveland,
Ohio has info about the story and the Albuquerque Journal
printed a piece on it, but what I have read on mail call
isn't exactly right, so let's start from the beginning.
I did hit the ground hard in total darkness and along with a few other boys found the company about noon. We got into a tight spot near Les Arcs, and dug in near a house and watched the Germans massing in the valley below and expected the worst until our mortars and artillery swamped that valley at about 5:30. We had been under fire for two or three hours, but after those big shells cleared the valley, the battle was over. We were extremely tired, so we dropped to the ground around the house and slept. I soon missed my dog tags and got new ones. In 1978 Fred and Colette Sayes, who live in the house, were cleaning their yards when Colette had my dog tag grab her rake. Much later I learned that she called it a small metal plaque. They tried to find me in the Draguignan Cemetery and by writing to the address on the tag. No success so they placed it in an envelope and placed it in a drawer.
In 1989 a group of 517 vets returned to the area. Among the group were two men who knew me, Ben Adams and Dick Jones. The group were hanging out in the plaza in Les Arcs, when Fred Saeys approached Ben and asked, "If he, per chance, knew Eugene Brissey". Ben said "yes" and called Dick. Fred told them that he had Eugene Brissey's dog tag. They talked, took pictures, and Fred gave them his address. When they returned home they called me. I wrote to Fred and after several letters it was apparent that they wanted to keep the tag, which was OK with me. I requested that they send it to me so that I could see it. With some reluctance, perhaps, Fred said that he would send it because "it would be more special to them after it had been in my hands". I kept it a few weeks and I suspect that they never expected to see it again. I sent it back stating that I wanted them to keep it because I had it for about 14 months and lost it while they had kept it safe in a drawer for about 11 years. They then informed me that the wanted to return it to me. Then they urged my wife, Edie, and me to visit them, saying that the wine was fine in October. After considerable thought we accepted their invitation and met them in Nice on Oct. 21 1990 and within a few minutes we were relaxed friends. We met several of their friends and a few French vets. They took us on tours through our battle grounds. They then presented me the tag in a brief ceremony at their home. During our stay, Nice newspaper reporters came to their home, took pictures and wrote a story of the "Saga". It was an unbelievable chain of events. They are great people and we had a very special five day visit.
-- Gene Brissey, March 6, 2001