It’s the story of a friendship forged during one of the worst battles of World War II, and a promise made almost 60 years earlier, a promise that was finally kept.
Harold Huggins, a U.S. veteran of 10 major campaigns in World War II and the last survivor of his battalion, traveled halfway across the United States by train on one last mission in memory of his best buddy.
“I’ve had this on my mind for 57 years, trying to locate his sister and loved ones out there in California ,” says Huggins. “Part of him lives in me.”
Huggins, from Albany , IL, and Mack McClain from Marysville, CA, were best friends in the army. They wound up together at Anzio Beach , Italy , the scene of one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Mack told Harold that he didn’t think he was going to make it out of there alive, so he gave Harold some mementos, a belt, some photos, and said: “’Give this to my sister, tell her that I love her,’ Huggins recalls. ’You can even give her a kiss.’”
Harold promised that if anything happened to Mack he would do what was asked. One day later, Mack was killed in an artillery barrage.
After the war, Harold looked for Mack’s sister but he never found her until Harold’s daughter sent out e-mails to various veterans groups inquiring about Mack’s relatives. Some California veterans found Mack’s sister, Grace, whose last name had changed because she married.
“We have always hoped and prayed that we would meet somebody that would tell us about Mack,” says Grace.
On Thursday, August 2, 2001, at the place where his buddy’s name is engraved in marble at the Veterans Memorial in Marysville , CA , Harold Huggins kept that promise he made 57 years earlier. He met Mack’s sister for the very first time, gave her the kiss that Mack asked Harold to deliver, and entrusted to her the mementos from his fallen friend.
For an old soldier who wouldn’t give up his search for a buddy’s long lost sister, there was a feeling of mission accomplished.
Friend, I want you to know about another Friend who died for you. In fact, He voluntarily gave His life so that you and I might live (1 Thessalonians 5:10). “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends” (John 15:13). Jesus Christ demonstrated this great love and died for our sins so that you and I might live with Him forever in heaven.
God’s mission of salvation was accomplished when Jesus paid the price for our sins on the cross (Ephesians 1:7). Through Jesus, we can have forgiveness and eternal life! We must accept His gift by believing in Him (Acts 16:30-31), turning from our sins in repentance (Acts 17:30-31), confessing Him before men (Romans 10:9-10), and being baptized (immersed) in His name for the forgiveness of our sins (Acts 2:38). Then, if we will live faithfully to Him (1 John 1:7), one day He will take us to live with Him forever (John 14:1-3).
Won’t YOU allow His Mission to be accomplished in you?
David A. Sargent