down on your luck
I grew up with a central family narrative around a piece of very bad luck. My father's only brother, my Uncle Eugene, was killed on the last day and during the final moments of WWII.
In what historians call "The last dogfight of WWII," Eugene's plane was shot down over the Pacific Ocean after the American pilots received news the war was over – but before pilots from the opposing military understood the war had ended.
When I was born a few years later, I was named after Eugene in an effort to remember a promising writer, editor, brother, and son whose body was lost at sea.
During 2015, our family story unexpectedly changed when I learned from a Japanese documentary filmmaker, who had discovered documents unknown to the US Navy, that Eugene's plane actually crashed in a field near Yokohama.
His body was retrieved by a monk and respectfully buried at a local Buddhist temple. Eugene's remains were later moved to an American military cemetery in the Philippines.
I've since been contacted by Eugene's 94-year-old fiancée, Sonya Kamsky, and am participating in a surprising and loving exchange of newly discovered photographs and letters.