In the aftermath of World War II, a number of American families were left with little closure. The major victory, in fact, came at a high price. As of May 1945, roughly 79,000 American soldiers were unaccounted for at the end of WWII. Since then, only a few of those cases have been solved. But one tenacious New Jersey-native recently concluded her decade-long research into what happened to her uncle. As a result, she is now the author of a mystery novel that’s giving her family some closure.
Steve Adubato, PhD., host of One-on-One with Steve Adubato, discussed the experience with author Sally Mott Freeman. They spoke about her decade of research and the impact her results had on her family. The mystery novel has a long title, but still manages to say a lot with very little; it’s called The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family’s Quest to Bring Him Home.
New Jersey Author Sally Mott Freeman Solves WWII-era Mystery
In the book, Freeman tells the story of three brothers from New Jersey who were naval officers during WWII. Her father, the middle brother, helped his youngest brother, Barton, get a commission with the Navy Supply Corps. But in this mysterious and harrowing tale, Barton is unaccounted for at the end of the war.
“This youngest brother was sent to the Philippines right after he was commissioned; and he was wounded and listed as missing,” said Freeman. “[The book is] really about the search for the youngest brother by the older two.”
Freeman describes this time as a very painful and repressed experience for her father, uncle and grandparents. Even in her youth, Freeman saw her father struggle with the question of his missing brother; so she dedicated herself to extensively researching his disappearance in hopes of solving the age-old mystery.
Freeman explains that “I went to the Philippines. I went to all the prison camps. I interviewed former prisoners of war.
“And I did find out what happened,” she added. “and it was a shocking revelation, because it was entirely different from what the family was told in the ‘40s.”
For more stories that impact New Jersey residents, click over to our Hot Topics in NJ series.
- Hero (Top) Feature Image: © One-on-One with Steve Adubato / Caucus Educational Corporation