97-Year-Old WWII Vet Uses Social Media to Track Down Italians He Saved as Children for Emotional Reunion

by Michael Freeman

In 1944, WWII veteran Martin Adler saved three Italian children during the war. Knowing Adler relished the photo of himself with the children, his daughter used social media to track down the children and help them reunite.

The story begins in 1944, when three Italian children peeked out from a huge wicker basket inside a house. Their mother had hidden them there as American soldiers began approaching. Adler initially thought the house was empty, so he pointed his machine gun to the basket after hearing a sound. He suspected a German soldier was lying in wait to ambush him.

However, the children’s mother would not allow it. “The mother, Mamma, came out and stood right in front of my gun to stop me (from) shooting,’’ Adler explained. “She put her stomach right against my gun, yelling, ‘Bambinis! Bambinis! Bambinis!’ pounding my chest.'”

After the incident, Martin Adler’s company remained in the village for a short time and the children would often come by to play with him.

Knowing about this story, Adler’s daughter, Rachelle Donley, opted to use the COVID-19 lockdown as a chance to locate the children in her father’s photo.

Exploring veteran’s groups in North America, an Italian journalist, Matteo Incerti, took notice of Donley’s efforts. Incerti had written WWII books and was able to track down Adler’s regiment, as well as where they were stationed based on a small detail in another photograph. Adler’s photograph was published in a local newspaper, which led to discovering the identities of the three children.

Though their initial reunion was through a video last year due to COVID, Adler finally saw the children in person yesterday in Italy.

National Anthem at Michigan Baseball Game Sung By 96-Year-Old WWII Veteran

Adler’s heartwarming reunion isn’t the only good WWII veteran news this month. In early August, a 96-year-old WWII veteran sang the national anthem at a Michigan baseball game.

Veteran John Pylman sang “The Star-Spangled Banner” before the West Michigan Whitecaps game on August 5. Pylman told MLive “to me, it means the United States of America, is worth fighting for.”

“God’s blessed us with this wonderful country, let’s take care of it. It’s worth fighting for.”

Content with simply having the honor to sing, Pylman was moved by the positive reception it received. Upon learning millions had watched, he expressed his disbelief.

“I can’t believe it. That’s my attitude right now – I just can’t believe it. I was amazed at the crowd’s reaction, and I thought, ‘okay, this is a good thing to have done.'”

Joining the Air Force in 1943, the national anthem means a great deal to him, particularly because it reminds him of friends he lost during the war.

“I had some dear friends who didn’t survive World War II – five of them in my ninth-grade class. We’ve got a wonderful country. It’s worth fighting for.”