Long-lost memento returned to family of WWII hero after 78 years

By: Woodlands Online Staff with Zachariah Fike
| Published 11/07/2023


THE WOODLANDS, TX – Recently, a team of French and American military historians returned the long-lost sterling silver bracelet of a WWII hero that was discovered in a European foxhole after nearly seventy years of being lost.

Found in a French foxhole, a bracelet comes home to The Woodlands

The WWII veteran, U.S. Army 1st Lieutenant Leslie Harry Boerstler, lost the bracelet in the field of battle in 1945 France. Boerstler was born September 5, 1922, in Cincinnati, Ohio to the late Francis Christian and Anna Marie Boerstler. Boerstler served with Company C, 401st Glider Company of the famous 101st Airborne Division. In early 1945, he was attached to the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment for Operation Oscar and other combat operations in the vicinity of Schweighouse-Sur-Moder, Alsace, France.

It was during this period of combat, his bracelet – a Christmas gift from his wife Mary Ann – was lost. Boerstler survived the war and returned home to America in 1946, thinking the bracelet was lost forever. Upon returning home, he re-entered civilian life and retired after forty years with the General Electric Company working as an engine control systems manager. He would later pass in 2011 in The Woodlands, and is buried in the local Forest Park Cemetery.

The bracelet was discovered in a foxhole in the Haguenau Forest of Alsace, France by local French military historians, Messrs. Gerard Aron and Thomas Fery in April of 2014. In an effort to locate his family, Aron and Fery recently turned to U.S. Military Historian and Army Veteran Zachariah Fike for help to locate the family. With a bit of detective work, Fike was able to locate Boerstler’s daughter, Joean Boerstler Noack, who lives in The Woodlands.

Instead of mailing the bracelet, Fery traveled more than four thousand miles from France to America and was joined by Fike to personally hand deliver the bracelet. This was Fery’s first-time visiting America.

After 78 years, Boerstler’s daughter was reunited with a piece of history she never knew existed. The bracelet was returned to Joean and her extended family at their family home in The Woodlands, Texas 77381.

Thanks to the efforts of those involved, especially Mr. Fike, who provided history, commentary, and photos, Woodlands Online is honored to share this story with area residents.

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