Al­len­town man makes trip to France where his brother died


Ed­i­tor’s note: On Oct. 12, Paul Savary, 92, of Al­len­town, made an emo­tional jour­ney to France to visit bat­tle sites and the grave of his brother, Charles Savary Jr. The Army pri­vate was killed at age 19 on Aug. 30 1944, in the Bat­tle for Brest. He landed in Nor­mandy on June 6, 1944, as part of the D- Day in­va­sion. A few days

be­fore he died, Charles Savary Jr. helped lib­er­ate Ville de Guil­ers. The Savary broth­ers grew up in Min­ersville. Paul Savary re­ceived a great gift on his pil­grim­age to France. His grand­daugh

ter, Dennille Schuler, of South White­hall, has writ­ten an ac­count of the trip.

Charles Savary Jr. was a 19- year- old Amer­i­can solider when he was killed in World War II’S Bat­tle for Brest in western France.

Charles was buried in France. His 18- year- old brother, Paul Savary, of Al­len­town, never had the chance to prop­erly mourn his brother’s death, serv­ing state­side in the same war that took his brother’s life.

Nearly 75 years later, Paul, now 92, trav­eled to the French towns and vil­lages his brother helped lib­er­ate. Re­trac­ing the steps of his brother and the oth­ers that served in K Com­pany of the 116th Reg­i­ment of the 29th Divi­sion, Paul learned not only about the events of 1944, but how they still res­onate to­day. Paul is my grand­fa­ther.

Charles and Paul were par­tic­u­larly close be­cause their mother died when they were young. Grow­ing up in Min­ersville, in the 1930s was a tough life, but they had each other.

Paul re­mem­bers how talented Charles was on the vi­o­lin, which he started play­ing at the age of 9. By the sixth grade, Charles was play­ing in the high school orches­tra. When war came call­ing, Charles wanted to bring his prized vi­o­lin, but their fa­ther said no. Paul of­ten won­ders if the vi­o­lin and a place in the Army Orches­tra would have kept Charles from see­ing com­bat. The two broth­ers were so close that Paul named one of his sons Charles to honor his brother.

Paul’s first trip to France was in 2007, while vis­it­ing me dur­ing my se­mes­ter abroad in London. My par­ents, Deb­o­rah ( Paul’s daugh­ter) and Dou­glas Var­ney, and youngest sis­ter, Deanna Var­ney, also made the trip. Then 81 years old, it was my grand­fa­ther’s first trip to visit his brother’s grave at Brit­tany Amer­i­can Ceme­tery and Me­mo­rial in Saint- James, Nor­mandy, France, which con­tains the re­mains of 4,410 WWII Amer­i­can sol­diers.

My great­est mem­ory from that visit was ask­ing the ceme­tery su­per­in­ten­dent if other Amer­i­can fam­i­lies had vis­ited that same week­end, be­cause we no­ticed many other graves were freshly dec­o­rated for Easter. He said no, that French fam­i­lies had adopted the graves and been dec­o­rat­ing them for gen­er­a­tions to honor the Amer­i­cans’ sac­ri­fice for their free­dom. That was an eye- open­ing mo­ment for my fam­ily, my grand­fa­ther in­cluded.

My grand­fa­ther had been ask­ing to go back to visit his brother ever since. My par­ents and sis­ter took my now 92- year- old grand­fa­ther to France in Oc­to­ber to again visit his brother. They also toured the beaches of Nor­mandy.

On their last full day, they de­cided to visit the bat­t­leg round where Charles fought. The Bat­tle for Brest was part of the Al­lied forces’ plan to in­vade the main­land of Europe and cap­ture ports used for the de­liv­ery of ma­te­ri­als and sup­plies.

When they ar­rived in the vil­lage of Guil­ers on Oct. 19, they were greeted by Ro­nan Ur­voaz- Sau­vage, an ex­pert on the bat­tle, and two oth­ers in an au­then­tic WWII Amer­i­can Jeep. Af­ter vis­it­ing one of the bat­tle sites near where Charles’ unit had fought to lib­er­ate Guil­ers in late Au­gust 1944, they were hosted by the mayor of Ville of Guil­ers, Pierre Ogor.

With champagne wait­ing, he wanted to say thank you for my grand­fa­ther’s brother’s sac­ri­fice. The Ville of Guil­ers also ar­ranged for French vet­er­ans to visit with my grand­fa­ther and ex­press their grat­i­tude. Ogor even pre­sented my grand­fa­ther with a medal of the city to re­mem­ber his brother who, he said, was the Amer­i­can sol­dier “come to fight the en­emy on French soil.”

Dur­ing the pre­sen­ta­tion he noted the im­por­tance, “74 years later, of con­tin­u­ing to honor the peo­ple who fought for our free­dom.”

Af­ter speeches and the pre­sen­ta­tion, they were taken to the site where Charles was killed in ac­tion on Aug. 30, 1944, dur­ing an at­tack on the strong point of La Tri­nite, west of Brest.

Each fam­ily mem­ber took away some­thing dif­fer­ent from this emo­tional visit. My sis­ter noted how ded­i­cated the tour guide was in gather­ing the cor­rect in­for­ma­tion to be able to tell sol­diers’ fam­i­lies ex­actly what hap­pened to their loved ones. My mom gained a bet­ter un­der­stand­ing of WWII and learned more about how her un­cle died a hero. My dad gained a new- found ap­pre­ci­a­tion for “the great­est gen­er­a­tion” and the mas­sive scale of the D- Day in­va­sion and sub­se­quent lib­er­a­tion of France.

As for my grand­fa­ther, this trip of­fered him an in­cred­i­ble gift — clo­sure. At 92 years old, the peo­ple of the Vil­lage of Guil­ers gave him the hero’s welcome that Charles was never able to re­ceive. He saw that there are peo­ple who re­mem­ber his brother and are grate­ful for his ser­vice. He saw that those French cit­i­zens would not have the life they have to­day with­out the sac­ri­fices made decades ago by Amer­i­can sol­diers like Charles.

Paul con­tin­ued serv­ing in WWII as a mem­ber of the Naval Air Force in Kingsville, Texas, but his life was for­ever changed by the loss of his brother. In­stead of be­ing bit­ter, he has lived his life as a gen­er­ous, lov­ing and un­der­stand­ing man.

Now, hav­ing heard the sto­ries and seen the bat­tle­fields first- hand, he can fully ap­pre­ci­ate the pur­pose be­hind his loss. Charles’ death, while heart­break­ing and lifechang­ing for our fam­ily, was part of a mis­sion that proved to be life- sav­ing for gen­er­a­tions of French cit­i­zens. My grand­fa­ther, and all who served, truly are part of the great­est gen­er­a­tion and we want him and oth­ers to know we ap­pre­ci­ate them.

Dennille Schuler, of South White­hall, is the pub­lic re­la­tions spe­cial­ist at Penn StateLe­high Val­ley and a grand­daugh­ter of Paul Savary.


Paul Savary, 92, of Al­len­town, is over­come with emo­tion stand­ing next to his brother Charles’ grave in the Brit­tany Amer­i­can Ceme­tery and Me­mo­rial in Saint- James, Nor­mandy, France.



Deanna Var­ney, of Sal­is­bury Town­ship, walks with her grand­fa­ther, Paul Savary, 92, of Al­len­town, af­ter vis­it­ing the grave of his brother, Charles Savary Jr., at the Brit­tany Amer­i­can Ceme­tery and War Me­mo­rial in Nor­mandy, France.

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