While doing some legal gun trading two years ago this week, I struck up a conversation with Greg Grimes, co-owner of Trail Creek Trade Co. Today, I want to share what happened during that visit and ask once again for your help as we try to complete a special mission by Veterans Day.
After negotiating the terms of a transaction involving two very old handguns, Grimes began to lament the declining interest many Americans have in guns as well as in history in general. A few anecdotes later, he directed my attention to a black-framed portrait of an American Soldier hanging on the wall and an associate of his lifted it off the wall and brought it over. That’s when the visit I had expected to last about 15 minutes turned into a 45-minute stay as I listened to Grimes tell me about a work of art adorning the wall of his antique firearms shop in the St. Louis suburb of St. Ann.
Grimes explained that he had acquired the framed artwork from a friend who had rescued it from a pile of things bound for a dumpster and then held on to it for a decade before transferring ownership to him. Since then, it has hung on the wall behind the counter near the back of the gun shop.
In addition to the fact the pencil sketch features an American Soldier, several other aspects of the piece make it special:
• It appears to have been drawn and signed by one of the German POWs for whom the Soldier was responsible;
• It features an honorable message (i.e., “In memory of your prisoners of war”) between one-time adversaries in a horrific war;
• It bears a date, 2 June 1945, that came only 25 days after the date on which hostilities in Europe came to an official end (i.e., “V-E Day” or “Victory in Europe Day”); and
• Finally, the back side of the portrait bears what appears to be the signatures of a total of eight German POWs, one of which matches the signature of the artist on the front.
I asked Grimes if he had ever tried to locate any of the people whose names appear on the piece, front and back. He said he had, but without success. That’s when I told him I would take photos of the piece and share details about it with my online readers, my contacts in the traditional and non-traditional news media worldwide and with my friends in patriotic and veterans organizations.
Off and on for two years, I’ve tried to stir up interest in locating the man in the portrait but have received not even a nibble. While the two-year-old video above mentions as a goal getting the portrait into the right hands by the 70th anniversary of the date shown — 2 June 1945 — next to the inscription, our goal remains: We want to see the portrait returned to the man portrayed in the sketch or to a member of his extended family.
To accomplish this goal, we need your help. If you recognize him, please send details to me via email at BobMcCartyWrites (at) gmail (dot) com or leave a comment below. If you don’t recognize him but still want to help, share this article with everyone you know.
Thanks in advance for your help!