Tuesday, July 10th at 7:00pm
By Lois Gregory
On Tuesday, July 10, at 7:00pm, we’ll have a reception in the Relief Society Room of the LDS Church to welcome Lili Pasteur, who will be visiting us from the Netherlands. We invite both our members and any guests to come and meet Lili, welcome her to New Bern, and thank her for what she and others in her country are doing to honor our American servicemen who died in Europe during World War II.
Lili is actively involved in the tradition of adopting memorial markers of American servicemen to honor, particularly at Margraaten Cemetery, where she honors an airman from New Bern, Sgt. James Jasper Lewis, by placing flowers at his memorial marker. Lili applied to be “adoptant” for James Lewis because he was killed in action on the same day as she was born. In Lili’s words, “When filing for an adoption of a name on the Walls of the Missing, I asked for such, as I thought it to symbolize the fact that his death did bring freedom to a baby born that same day.”
As you may remember from my article in the July-August 2011 issue of KinTracks, we have tried over the past year to help Lili Pasteur find out more about James Lewis, who was born in Beaufort County, NC and lived with his family in downtown New Bern, and then served as a member of a “Flying Fortress” bomber crew in Europe during World War II. As reported in the March-April 2012 issue of KinTracks, we recently found his WWII draft registration card, which gave us his birth date of January 11, 1925, as Lili particularly wanted to be able to remember him with flowers on his birth date.
Also helping in the search for more information about Sgt. Lewis has been Victor T. Jones, Jr., who found an article published on June 11, 1944 in the New Bern Sun Journal stating that on May 28, 1944, Sgt. Lewis’s plane failed to return to its base in Britain from a mission over Germany, and the crew members were declared missing in action. This article named his parents as Mr. and Mrs. Harvey Lewis.
Lili is interested in seeing our town, the home where James Lewis lived before he left to serve in World War II on Hancock Street, and perhaps the home where his family lived when he was born, which is just south of “little” Washington near Chocowinity, NC. She also hopes to meet some of his relatives while she is here.
Please join us in welcoming Lili Pasteur to New Bern and expressing our thanks for what she and others in the Netherlands are doing in remembrance of our World War II servicemen. Refreshments will be served.
An Update Report from Lili Pasteur
by Lois & Bob Gregory
We recently received a very interesting report from Lili Pasteur regarding the work on identifying missing World War II war dead, which would include James Lewis, formerly of New Bern, as reported in KinTracks in the past.
Previously, Lili had made contact with an organization then called JPAC, which was working on this project. Through JPAC, a niece of James Lewis named Yvonne Howard, who had visited our society after Lili’s visit during the summer of 2012, gave a DNA sample to help with this identification process. At that point, information from this group simply “died.”
In May 2015, Lili received a call from a woman named Nicole Rhoton, who is working for the Department of Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency, a new group assigned to the identification process. Nicole was working in Germany, near the probable location of the crash site, and through her discussion with people there who had previously spoken to Lili, contacted her for whatever information she might have. This conversation explains in part why neither Lili Pasteur nor Yvonne Howard had heard anything further from JPAC.
Lili also found the following information on Wikipedia, which she said is a good summary of her conversation with Nicole Rhoton:
On January 30, 2015, JPAC was officially deactivated by the Department of Defense. The Defense Department's efforts at reform followed a series of embarrassing scandals and damning revelations in reports and testimony before Congress starting in 2013 concerning failures in the effort to identify missing war dead. JPAC, the Defense POW/Missing Personnel Office (DPMO), and certain functions of the U.S. Air Force's Life Sciences Equipment Laboratory, were all merged into the new Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency.
The new agency knew nothing of the DNA sample given by Yvonne Howard, nor about who to contact regarding James Lewis or several others from the missing plane crash that Lili had been involved with during the past few years. However, that case is now very active and Lili is hoping it will bring some results and resolution to the families of the missing airmen. The team from this new agency is to return to Germany and to the site of that crash this summer. I think we can safely say that Lili will keep in close touch with this new group and assist them in any way possible.
Lili sent this email report to a number of others who have helped her with this project. In the closing of her message Lili says:
“You can be proud of all you contributed to the quest for James and Arnold. I mentioned that extensively to Nicole (the new contact) how much the 390th alliance, together with the genealogy, had blazed the trail to the finding of James' relatives. Let's hope that the motto of the DPAA ‘Until they are home’ will apply to our James and Arnold.