Now the family knows the whole story.
Relatives of Army Cpl. Ralph E. “Dutch” Bradybaugh of Kane knew this soldier was killed in action during the “Battle of the Bulge” in Bastogne, Belgium on Jan. 3, 1945—just four months before Germany surrendered to end World War II.
What they didn’t know until 66 years later is that Bradybaugh died as a hero by saving the life of his best friend and fellow soldier, Alfred M. Percival of Milan, Ohio.
This revelation surfaced last summer when Al Percival Jr. of Berlin Heights, Ohio made contact with Joan Bizzak of Kane. Bradybaugh was her uncle.
“I am so glad that I was able to contact you,” Percival said in an email to Bizzak. “I believe it was by Divine Providence.”
“My dad was with your uncle when he was killed,” Percival said. “You uncle saved my dad’s life.”
Percival said his father and Bradybaugh were members of the 501 Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.
He said his father “told me about what had happened” when Bradybaugh was killed.
He said the two soldiers were carrying “hot stew” to GIs on the front line when they came under German artillery fire.
Percival said his father and Bradybaugh “ran for cover” and “they both dove on the ground.”
“Your uncle landed right on top of dad,” Percival told Bizzak. He said his father claimed that he “would have been the one who was killed” if Bradybaugh hadn’t landed on him.
“I often thank God for your uncle who saved my father’s life because my seven brothers and sisters owe their lives to him, too,” Percival said. “Had he not saved dad, we wouldn’t be here.”
Percival said his father seldom talked about his service in World War II, but “never got over losing his buddy.” He said his father kept a photo of Bradybaugh “in a little pouch in his top dresser drawer.”
When Percival’s father died in 1994, his mother gave him the “pouch” with the photo of Bradybaugh.
See full article by purchasing the Dec. 3 edition of The Kane Republican.