West York, Pa., family learns that memory of downed World War II airman is well cared for
The name of Tech. Sgt. Kenneth E. Slenker of West York, Pa., appears on ‘The Wall of the missing’ at Margraten American War Cemetery in the Netherlands. The existence of this memorial to the downed World War II was unknown to his brother, West York’s Charles Slenker, until recently. (See video interview below.) Also of interest: ‘Just good, upstanding West Yorkers’: The boroughs of York County series and New York County exhibit covers 20th-century wars: ‘We willingly served our country because they asked us to’ and Nazis murdered downed WWII airman from York, Pa.
A sidebar with my York Sunday News column (7/3/11) – Books open us to new worlds – gives background about how a West York man learned that the memory of his brother is well cared for in The Netherlands:
Amy Gulli, our day metro editor, sorts through scores of emails a day, separating out the legitimate messages from the spam.
Our guideline at the York Daily Record/Sunday News is to reply to each one in which the writer seeks a response.
So Amy was following through after coming across an email from the Netherlands recently. The writer, Werner Van Vlierbergen, sought information on Kenneth E. Slenker, from York, a World War II airman killed when his plane was shot down.
“Think this is a legitimate request for info?” Amy wrote, in an email to me.
Ten years ago, I had edited former West York Mayor Charles Slenker’s memoir “Remembrances of West York Borough.”
I remembered he wrote about losing a brother in the war, and the fact that his body was never recovered.
Yes, Kenneth Slenker.
I called Charlie, saying that a citizen in The Netherlands was honoring his late brother’s grave in Margraten American War Cemetery.
He and Werner traded information.
Werner was looking for Kenneth’s birthday. He had adopted the airman’s grave and was remembering him on Christmas, Memorial Day and other holidays.
He wanted to honor him on his birthday, too.
A stranger was recognizing Kenneth as a member of his own family.
“I can’t say what it means,” Charlie told the Daily Record/Sunday News’ Mike Argento. “It means the world to me.”
A bit more closure for Charlie on this story of sacrifice, appropriate for this Fourth of July weekend.
And thanks to an alert editor, Amy Gulli, for flagging the original query from a well-meaning soul in The Netherlands.
Mike Argento reports that such acts of commemoration are common in Europe. To read Mike’s full story (and see a video of Charlie Slenker addressing his new friend in The Netherlands), visit: In the Netherlands, a fallen WW2 soldier from West York ‘will be remembered’.
Werner Van Vlierbergen, the Netherlands has adopted a grave at the World War II Margraten American War Cemetery.
Part of his e-mail follows:
“I have very little information about this hero.
“His name is Kenneth E. Slenker, Technical Sergeant at the 413rd Bomb Squadron of the 96th Bomb Group.
“He came from York, Pennsylvania and Died above sea at 16-dec-1943.
“I have been sending letters to the Department of the Army and the National Archives and still awaiting a response.”
Also of interest, again
‘Just good, upstanding West Yorkers’: The boroughs of York County series and New York County exhibit covers 20th-century wars: ‘We willingly served our country because they asked us to’
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