Wooden shoes make indelible impression on World War II veteran
By Larry Coppock
I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread. They are always generous and lend freely; their children will be a blessing.––Psalms 37:25-26
Almost two years ago a prominent businessman sponsored 30,000 Strength for Service to God and Country devotional books. That was the good news. The bad news: we had no place to store them.
Enter Morris Dennis.
Mr. Dennis is a 91 year-old Navy veteran of WWII and CEO of Dennis Paper Co. in Nashville. Working through his president son, Ronnie, the books found a temporary home in the company’s warehouse while waiting for distribution to chaplains of the armed services.
The rest of the story
Mr. Dennis began sharing his WW II experiences with me when I would drop by to pick up some books. I invited both him and Ronnie to an SFS board meeting last year to share some of his war-time memories and so that we could properly thank them for their generosity.
He served on the LST 58 where he piloted an LVCP (landing boat) in the second wave at Normandy, June 6, 1944. No LVCP's came back from the first wave, Dennis noted.
During the first few days of the invasion he met a little girl on the sands of Saint Marsal Beach. She was desperate for food for her starving grandparents. A compassionate Dennis asked her to wait and he would go and secure food from the ship and bring it back to her. He did just that. The little girl insisted on paying Morris but had no money. She offered a pair of wooden shoes shew was wearing. Morris reluctantly took them as she insisted.
This is one of the highlights of Morris Dennis’ war time experiences, not because of efforts to win a medal or make the news. Quite the contrary, he holds on to the shoes today as a keepsake, and as a remembrance of a poignant moment of human kindness in the midst of chaos and desperation.
Just recently I wrote to a friend of mine who lives in Luxembourg. He and my father served together in a rifle company, 89th Inf. Div. at the same time that Dennis was steering ships across the English Channel to France. He enthusiastically offered to write his contacts, including the granddaughter of General George Patton, to see if they can help locate the ‘little girl’ in the story. While she would be almost as old as Mr. Dennis, if indeed alive, finding her would serve as a small but meaningful recompense to a member of the Greatest Generation who made altruistic contributions that are seldom depicted in highlight reels.
Please be in prayer that something good happens, perhaps even locating a little girl, now grown up, and that she and Mr. Dennis are once again able to walk the Normandy beaches and share their memory. What a peaceful and Godly thought.
The Tennessean newspaper carried an article about Mr. Dennis.
Larry W. Coppock, acting executive director,
Strength for Service, Incorporated