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KEEPING PROMISES


It’s the story of a friendship forged during one of the worst battles of World War II, and a promise made almost 60 years ago, a promise that was finally kept Thursday, Aug. 2, 2001. HAROLD HUGGINS, a veteran of 10 major campaigns in World War II and the last survivor of his battalion, traveled halfway across the country by train on one last mission in memory of his best buddy.


"I had this on my mind for 57 years, trying to locate his sister and loved ones out there in California," says Huggins. "Part of him lives in me."


Huggins, from Albany, Ill., and Mack McClain from Marysville, Calif., were best friends in the army. They wound up together at Anzio Beach, Italy, scene of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Mack had a premonition that he wouldn’t make it out of there alive, so he gave Harold some mementos, a belt, some photos, and said: "’Give this to my sister, tell her that I love her,’ Huggins recalls. ’You can even give her a kiss.’"


Harold promised if anything happened to Mack he would do what was asked. One day later, Mack was killed in an artillery barrage. After the war, Harold looked for Mack’s sister but he never found her until Harold’s daughter sent out e-mails to various veterans groups. Some California vets found Mack’s sister, Grace, whose last name changed when she married.


"We have always hoped and prayed that we would meet somebody that would tell us about Mack," says Grace.


Thursday, Aug. 2nd, at the place where his buddy’s name is engraved in marble at the veterans memorial in Marysville, Calif., Harold Huggins kept that promise he made 57 years ago, meeting Mack’s sister for the very first time and giving her that kiss that Mack asked Harold to deliver, turning over those mementos from his fallen friend.


SOURCE: Steve Shepherd.

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