A single picture has led a man to travel across the North Atlantic Ocean in search of one of the men he credits for saving his family in WWII.
Thierry Ferey, 53, of Normandy, France, has heard about the stories shared by his parents detailing the struggles they endured during WWII. Those stories included the memories of the paratroopers who served in 501 Company C, 101st Airborne, Screaming Eagles.
When Ferey came across a photo taken in 1944 of the members of the 101st Airborne, he made it his mission to try and locate a surviving member – to simply say “thank you.”
Among those in the faded, sepia-colored photo was James Leonard Mason.
“It’s this kind of man, it’s all by their courage, who saved the battle,” said Ferey.
Ferey’s father was just a child during WWII, but his family made it a point to share the stories of the men who helped to give them a new life.
“I always call them my angels from the sky.”
Ferey sent a handwritten letter to Mason, 96, expressing his gratitude in 2014. That letter would turn into a formal meeting – about three years later – with a special trip from France to Sugarcreek, Ohio.
“This is Lt. James Mason,” said Brenda Mason Young, Mason’s daughter, introducing the Ferey to her father at his room at the Walnut Hills Nursing Home.
Mason, who became a pastor after serving in WWII, is a man of few words, but his family stood by to watch the meeting.
“This gentleman and his country are standing with us like troopers,” said Mason.
Family members watched as Mason held onto Ferey’s hand to show his appreciation for his long travels and ending, not surprisingly, with a prayer.
Ferey’s travel plans also include meeting another man in Honolulu who was involved in helping to protect his family during the war. While some members of the 101st Airborne have since passed, Ferey is thankful to have at least personally thanked one man who he says risked his life to save strangers.