14 March 2014

Social Media Helps Detail 'Red Bull' Uncle's WWII Death

A writer of a blog that tells the story of an uncle's service during World War II recently recounted how social media has helped clarify the circumstances of his uncle's non-combat death in 1944 Italy.

Writer Kurt Greenbaum uses a blog to post the letters of his late uncle Frank D. "Babe" Mauro, Mount Kisco, N.Y, who was a member of the U.S. 34th Infantry "Red Bull" Division. Mauro was a radio operator assigned to the Anti-Tank Company, 168th Infantry Regiment (168th Inf.).

Mauro, who died a just four days before V-E Day, always began his letters with "I am well, happy, and safe." Greenbaum's military history blog takes its name from the salutation.

Through e-mail conversations and Facebook, Greenbaum connected with the Conte family, whose ancestors once owned a fish market in Mount Kisco. Recently, one of the family recalled an off-hand remark made in a conversation years ago—a comment that added some detail to the circumstances of Babe's death. Previously, Greenbaum only knew that his uncle had been killed in a single-vehicle accident involving a canal. Greenbaum writes:
“What [a Conte relative] said was the war had just ended and Babe was very jubilant,” [John Conte] told me. “Somehow or other, he took a jeep out and they were taking something of a joy ride, celebrating. They lost control ...”

“It’s a tragic story when you think he survived everything else,” John said.
Based on his recollection of the relevant conversation, John Conte did not think that the accident involved alcohol.

Greenbaum's experience validates the idea that social media and blogging can create new opportunities for exploring the past. For Greenbaum, the snippet of information provides a little closure. "It may be the best information I’ll ever get on the subject," he writes. "And yes, I wanted to hear it."

For previous Red Bull Rising mentions of the "Well, Happy, and Safe" blog, click here and here.

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