Marstal Cemetery - Jack E. Wagner - Marstal 2021 På dansk Updated: 03 SEP 2021
At about 5 a.m. the Germans arrived accompanied by the local police officer. Even if the Danish early risers split up in small groups when the Germans arrived, the Germans of course wondered why there were so many people in the cemetery so early in the day. The police officer answered that residents of Marstal were very fond of visiting the cemetery early in the morning.
When the Germans lowered the coffin into the grave, they discovered a Danish flag at the bottom of the grave, beautifully made of flowers.
The same day before noon the vicar held prayers at the grave, which during the
day was covered with a sea of flowers in red, white and blue colours, so that a
The letter writer in Marstal was Mrs Nathalia Mortensen. She had seen a carrier return from the coast with something covered on his wagon, so she assumed that it was the body of the airman known from rumours. Mrs Mortensen then called Dr Fenger, as she knew that there was to be a medical inspection of the body. The doctor reached the chapel of rest before the Germans came and got hold of a photo of a young girl and her address.
After the burial Mrs Mortensen wrote a letter to the address the doctor found. With some
detours it was sent to Sweden and from there to USA by Captain Folmer of the
cable steamer Eduard Suensson.”
(FAF) (See also information about
Mrs. Carla Pedersen in Karlslunde, who tended
Keith W. Rainford´s grave.)
Gravestone unveiled on 21
Jack Wagner was the twenty-sixth soldier from
Snyder county to give his life in
the Second World War but, as has been written from his home town, he is “the
only one from here who has been honoured so beautifully by the underground
movement in an enslaved Europe”.” (From “They died for us” by Kai Michelsen,
1946, from Ove Hermansen)
In 1980 a sister, Doris Woll, now of Willow Grove, visited her brother´s grave and met Nathalia and Niels Mortensen. Woll found out that this kind Danish woman and her husband had cared for Wagner´s grave since the day he was buried. The couple went there on Saturday mornings to tend the flowers. Wagner´s sister also learned about the difficulty in obtaining the small American flags which were placed on the grave on Christmas, the airman´s birthday anniversary and May 20 every year. On her return, she started supplying them with the small flags.
The newspaper story in 1984 written by Dick Sarge had a small headline “Couple tended U.S. gunner´s grave for 40 years” and a large headline “Selinsgrove to honor 2 Danes”. The Philadelphia Veterans´ Advisory Commission had found out about Wagner´s grave. The director wrote to the mayor of Selinsgrove, urging that recognition be given by the borough to the Danish couple and their village.
Mayor Kenneth F. Mease was young together with Jack Wagner and said, “Jack was a very pleasant and amiable young man. I don´t ever remember a scowl or an unhappy look on Jack´s face, nor do I recall ever hearing him utter an unkind word toward anyone. His leadership qualities, his high moral standards and his concern for others gave him a strength of character that would have, undoubtedly, helped him become one of our outstanding citizens had he survived the war and returned to Selinsgrove.”
Selingrove Mayor Kenneth F. Mease has issued a proclamation designating July 11 – the 40th anniversary of Wagner´s burial in the village cemetery – as “Mortensen Day” and “a day of honor, gratitude and remembrance”.
The story of the grave in Marstal reached
President Ronald Reagan, who invited Nathalia and Niels Mortensen to a memorial day in Washington, but they declined
the invitation due to their old age – 80 and 84 in 1984!
Marstal 2021 See details about a wreath-laying ceremony and more.