Athens Review, Athens, Texas


July 24, 2006

Athens man finally meets World War II-era pen-pal 64 years after first correspondence


Albert Dols, the Warrens’ neighbor, helped with translation during the meeting, which lasted a little over an hour.

“Mien’s son spoke English very well,” Tommie said.

“Her daughter-in-law spoke no English and Mien speaks broken English. We could converse with her, and she is able to read English. She was able to understand us.”

Travis said he and Mien talked about “just about everything under the sun. We talked about the families, and she asked about Noel and his family.”

“All her brothers and sisters, her parents, they’re all dead,” he said. “It’s just a miracle that she’s still alive.”

The visit led to Travis writing her again. “He wrote her another letter,” Tommie said. “And my niece and nephew have also made contact.”

The Masons visit to the Netherlands didn’t end with meeting Mien and her son. They also soaked up some history. Along with Winnette and her two sons, and Tommie’s great-nephew, the Masons visited the Netherlands American Cemetery at Margaraten, Hoensbroek Castle in Hoensbroek, The Market in Geleen, the Keukenhof Gardens outside of Amsterdam, the Anne Frank Museum in Amsterdam, the windmills in Kinderdyke and the Velvet Caves at Valkenburg. They said they hope to visit the Netherlands again next year.

Besides the visit with Mien, the cemetery visit meant the most to Travis.

“Holland was the only country that deeded the U.S. 65 acres for a cemetery,” he said. “Nobody is buried there but Americans. And they take care of it. If you’ve ever been in the service, it really touches you to know that.”

The cemetery has 8,301 graves, and a wall with 1,722 missing names and ranks on it. “It’s unreal what it looks like,” Tommie said.

“Each grave there was adopted by a Dutch family, and has been handed down through generations. They have a waiting list of people who want to adopt a grave that a family doesn’t want anymore. The cemetery itself went on forever. It was a beautiful area.”

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