Private First Class Jarrell Bryant
Ben De Staercke
LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- One year ago, on last Veteran's Day we
introduced you to a young Belgian man and his mission to keep an
Arkansas soldier's memory alive, plus the search for his relatives.
Immediately after our story aired, emails and phone calls poured in leading
us to Private First class Jarrell Bryant's family and a first time meeting to
This walk has been more than three years in the making, a moment to bring
generations together, and a first time meeting long overdue. Three people-a
21-year-old Belgian postal worker, a mother and a son- are all connected by one
"I really wanted to meet this family because it's--How do you say it?--I
wanted to get to know the people he called family," explained Ben De
We discovered this story one year ago when we first introduced you to De
Staercke-a man with a deep connection to the Enola, Arkansas soldier. Three to
four times a year, De Staercke comes to The Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery
and Memorial in Belgium to visit Private Bryant, killed in action during World
War II while volunteering to take a wounded buddy to get help.
Now, for the first time ever De Staercke is in Lenexa, Kansas. His
search for the family Private Bryant left behind finally over.
"Can't really explain how much this all means to me to see the people
he loved and he left behind. It's so really marvelous experience," says De
Private Bryant's widow is 93-year-old Eva Bumpers, and their only son is
De Staercke adopted Private Bryant's grave in 2009.
"It's a very beautiful place and he's buried with his comrades in arms, it's
a very nice place to be buried," he told THV 11.
"I've been thrilled to death that he was taking care of Jarrell's grave
because he's worth everything to Larry and me, so anything that Ben does for
him, I'll love him, for taking care of the grave," said Bumpers.
"He must be a great guy, and anyone that would do that for what they
called the great generation--what those people did, died to set them free," said
De Staercke said it's an honor and so is meeting Private Bryant's family.
"I still don't know a lot, but I know how he lived, who his family was
and even how he died, so it's a bit of rounding of the circle," he said.
The circle will never be broken between a young Belgian man, a son, a war
widow and an American hero.
"And, we'll never know what sacrifice he gave for us. We know that his
death, everything about him we lost, except his memory, but we know he lives on
in our hearts and always will," said De Staercke.
All three hope to keep to in touch.
Part 1: Lost but not forgotten
Part 2: Lost and found