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N.Y. girl learns of local grandfather through old letters

A local World War II soldier was remembered by his granddaughterrecently in article that appeared in a national publication.

Katie Watson, a 2007 graduate of Sarah Lawrence College inBronxville, N.Y. wrote a Memorial Day tribute to her grandfatherRoy Watson, who grew up in Brookhaven. Her article appeared in theForum section of Thursday’s USA Today.

Katie Watson said that although he died before she was born, shefelt she had gotten to know him through some letters he had senthome during his tours of duty during the years of World War II.

“(He) never talked about his experience as anything unusual, butit is his refusal to make a special claim for himself that makes meadmire him,” she wrote.

Attempts to reach Katie Watson were unsuccessful.

In the article, Watson went on to talk about her grandfather’sevolution from an optimistic small-town boy to a war-wearyveteran.

“My grandfather no longer went on and on about shooting contestsin camp,” she wrote. “For him, hitting the target no longer meantgetting into town before the other men; it meant living longer thanthe enemy.”

She said the horrors of war had been building, but hit home whenRoy Watson’s brother Sidney was killed in the Battle of the Bulge.She said the rigors of war really began taking their toll on himthen, and that his letters became more and more despondent – untilhe quit writing a few months after his brother’s death.

“I do not think my grandfather would have found his brother’sdeath softened by his patriotic sacrifice,” she wrote. “Mygrandfather believed America had fought a ‘good war,’ but nothingcould ease the fact that he would never see his brother again.”

Watson said the letters taught her that the soldiers in Iraq arereally no different than the ones of her grandfather’s era – allsons and brothers and husbands and fathers, trying to make adifference for their country.

“This Memorial Day, I will think not only of the bravery it tookfor my grandfather to make it through the war,” she wrote. “I willthink of the men and women serving in our armed forces and willknow that like him, they might be scared or frustrated. In the end,they too are brave and courageous for the sacrifice they are makingfor our country.”