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WWII vet's jacket found in attic in France

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By Tribune Chronicle
Saturday, April 6, 2013, 6:21 p.m.
 

WARREN, Ohio — When Paul Lubiak saw pictures of the jacket from his dress uniform in World War II with his name on the inside, it brought back a flood of memories of France.

The 94-year-old, a member of the Army's 82nd Airborne Division in World War II, fought in France. He lives in Gillette Nursing Home near Warren.

He said being contacted by an 18-year-old man living in France who had the jacket took him back to good and bad memories of his time in the service.

‘‘I sort of enjoyed France,” he said. ‘‘France was a nice country. Those people were friendly.”

Lubiak, who along with his father changed his name from Lubianetzky after the war, said he was surprised when a handwritten note came in the mail from Robert Dimitri of Haute-Saone in eastern France.

Dimitri also sent a picture of himself and the jacket, which was later worn by French troops after the war and has different buttons on it. He said a friend of his found it in an attic about three months ago along with other war memorabilia.

Inside the collar of the jacket is Lubiak's original last name and serial number.

In a series of emails, Dimitri said, he used Lubiak's serial number to find him online. From there he found a (Warren) Tribune Chronicle story from 2011 about Lubiak's service.

Lubiak was a member of a glider regiment when he landed in France during D-Day.

He was injured in a glider crash on D-Day that took the lives of all the other troops on the glider. He was treated for his injuries in England and returned to the 82nd. He also participated in the invasion of Sicily in 1943, before D-Day and the landings in France.

Dimitri told Lubiak that he was researching the campaigns that took place around his home during World War II.

Lubiak's daughter plans to talk to Dimitri and give him some information on where her father served, Lubiak said. Dimitri wants to know where Lubiak served because of his research on the campaigns near his home.

Lubiak said he does not remember what he did with the jacket or how it may have been left behind.

‘‘I have no idea where it came from,” he said.

He speculated that the jacket may have been left behind in a town where he was billeted, where it was common practice to have civilians do laundry for the troops.

He did say, however, that he thinks a lot of Dimitri.

‘‘I think he's a nice young man,” Lubiak said.

His wife of 67 years, Lena, also was taken aback by the letter.

‘‘I thought (the letter) was from a friend of his,” she said.

Sam Lanza of Warren, who served in the Marine Corps in World War II and was wounded on Okinawa, said he remembers receiving some of his personal effects as he was tended to in several hospitals.

About eight months after he was wounded, Lanza said he received his wallet, which had $3.50 inside, and a book with pictures.

He said getting such a memento of his service would be a welcome sight.

‘‘That would be utterly fantastic,” Lanza said of Lubiak's surprise. ‘‘It would bring back a lot of great memories of my buddies.”

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