~ ~ ~
Reception to Welcome Lili Pasteur to New Bern
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.
Source: Craven County Genealogical Society, "KinTracks" Newsletter, Number 4, July - August 2012, Editor, Carolyn Clemmer McCulley
~ ~ ~
Caretaker unites with fallen soldier's family
July 13, 2012
Lili Pasteur of Joppe, Netherlands, has found the family of a Staff Sgt. James Jasper Lewis, a New Bern World War II Army Air Corps serviceman killed in action over her country, one of the brave Americans she has credited literally her whole life for her freedom.
Lewis was 20 years old and a ball turret gunner blown to ashes May 28, 1944 when his fully-armed B-17 Flying Fortress was shot down over the Netherlands.
Pasteur was born that day in what had been a German occupied region south of the big rivers in the Netherlands which was liberated in the American offensive that took Lewis' life.
There were no remains to bury, just a few things to send home to New Bern to his family on Hancock Street where he lived when he signed up for service while working at the Cohen-Goldman sewing room nearby.
"What stands out in my mind is that he was part of a crew that took part in a mission the day I was born," she said.
Pasteur lost family members in the war, her grandmother on her father's side died in a concentration camp in the Dutch Indies and the son and wife of his brother in a German firing line and to the bullets of freedom fighters.
But "both of my parents survived," as did the newborn Pasteur and a brother and later their sister was born, Pasteur said, tears welling in her eyes. While the Pasteur family was free much of the Netherlands to the north still experienced "the Hunger Winter of 1945, when people ate the flower bulbs," before the war ended in that area when eventually liberated by Canadian forces.
A tradition began in the Netherlands where citizens adopted American gravesites to stand in the place of the American families that lost their loved ones. Pasteur wanted to give back to and honor an American soldier that died fighting for her freedom starting her journey to learn more about Lewis.
Pasteur looks for New Bern connections
Finding out about a young American soldier's short military career took Pasteur some time. Records exist of his missions with the Devil's Aces and she connected with Lois and Bob Gregory of Craven County Genealogical Society who "got involved and did a lot of work. We found a lot of documents, including his draft card. We cheer at every find."
But finding his family has been more difficult.
Letters written to old addresses and other leads came back or didn't come back but Pasteur knew where he lived when he left for war and she was determined to continue the search.
When Pasteur came to New Bern this week she went to the house that is now 609 Hancock Street which is restored and occupied by others.
But an address on Queen Street where the daughter of Lewis' late stepmother, Daisy Lewis, helped her hit pay dirt Thursday.
When she went there current owner Craig Kantorski was home and "he had a big surprise for me. He had bought the house of the granddaughter of Daisy, hence he knew her name, found her address and phone number. So I called and explained" and arranged to meet her.
Kantorski had also found the small box containing an old wallet with Lewis' name embossed on it in gold, a small blue receipt that showed he'd sent $30 to Miss Jessie A. Fulcher when he was at Kingman Airbase in Arizona, a newspaper clipping that said Lewis was presumed dead, a Social Security card that called him Jack Jasper Lewis. They were packed away with his memory.
"You will understand that I was quite emotional about that all," said Pasteur.
After chasing leads by mail, email and phone, traveling from Netherlands to Seattle so she could fly in the Collins Foundation Wings of Freedom B-17 and "walk in his footprint, taste his experience, "it was the first things I saw that were his. I thought, 'he's real.'"
She also got leads to relatives by phone and email Friday morning after a Sun Journal notice on the Friday edition obituary page and her photo with the notice on the website.
"The phone started ringing early this morning, first from a guy who had been in training with him," Pasteur said. William Smith of Pamlico remembers him although they were separated when he chose to be a paratrooper but they will be talking also.
The second call was Lewis' niece Yvonne Howard of Havelock who said she would meet with her in the afternoon and when Pasteur arrived at her home, "Uncle Jack's" nephew Doug Franks and niece Peggy Giasson were also there.
"They were as emotional as I was," she said. "We fell into each others' arms and cried."
They had pictures of their uncle, his purple heart and another military award, recollections and other family memorabilia that made Lewis even more real for Pasteur. They shared information and stories for two hours.
Pasteur said "It feels like having found a family. It changed my life, really. I had help all the way, help and commitment from people I never met before. There so many good people that religion, politics, the things that make people mad at each other, seem not to matter. "
Pasteur thinks that after learning from Lewis' family she may start calling him 'Jack.' Pasteur has seen Lewis' face and will continue in her quest to learn more of who he was, next week in Arkansas she will talk with one of the soldiers in his unit she connected with over the internet.
"Never in our lifetime can we pay back what they gave us. Bringing flowers is the least we can do to let people know we care for them. It's just a little comforting thought, lest we forget."
~ ~ ~
Any additional info is greatly appreciated.
Entered the service from North Carolina
Sponsored by Ancestry