Biography of George Hatem
I'm a "Baby-boomer" who has always loved and admired an uncle who was killed in World War II before I was born. His name was George Hatem from Birmingham, Alabama. When I was a little girl hearing the story behind the folded flag in my mother's cedar chest, 1945 seemed like a long time ago; but now that I'm not too far from 50 years old, I realize I missed knowing my uncle by only a few years. My heart has always been broken about that.
I don't know much about any of my mother's family. My grandparents, Joseph and Maggie Hatem, Lebonese immigrants, came through Ellis Island at the turn of the century. My grandfather died from a bleeding ulcer in 1939, leaving behind 10 children. My grandmother died in 1945 from a broken heart when the youngest of these, my Uncle George died from wounds he received in France. No one has the original letter, but my mother remembers an Army official telling her of Uncle George's bravery. He was wounded in France by American fire during a battle on September 30, according to the Birmingham news clipping which is all that remains of the record of his death. I have it sealed in plastic. The clipping also states that he is reported to have died on October 5. The heart breaking part of this story is that Mother remembers the officer saying that he died from gangrene. I'll always wonder how long he might have lain on the battle field before he could receive medical attention.
I have a beautiful picture of him in his Postal Service uniform. He is on his bicycle grinning from ear to ear. You see, he delivered telegrams. One day he went to his mother and told her that he felt it was his duty to enlist in the Army. He had never been called by the draft, but he watched as some of his friends were called and sent overseas. The news paper clipping states that he enlisted in January of 1943 and went overseas in May of the same year.
He is so handsome in the obituary picture and in the picture on his Postal Service bicycle. I like to think that, had he lived, he'd have married a beautiful girl and had lots of cousins for me to play with.
If any one reading this story knew my uncle, please let me know. He lived on 9th Avenue South and 18th Street in Birmingham near property that now belongs to UAB. He went to Ramsey High School. I don't know the name of his company nor the exact year of his death (for sure), but I'm assuming that this battle in France took place on or around Sept. 30, 1945, because my mother said he died just 6 weeks before the war's end was declared. As I said, he was the son of Lebonese immigrants and was dark and very handsome. I'm not sure if he was tall or not. The two oldest Hatem children were boys (Edward and Charles). Charles was tall; Ed was not. Uncle George was buried in France, but his body was returned to the States after the war; he is currentlly resting in peace beside his mother, father, and six brothers and sisters. Even though I never new him, Uncle George's memory is as real to me as the existence of the three children I bore. They are free because he died.
CARDJ49@aol.com ( Curator note this email has become Inactive )
WEBMASTER NOTE DATE OF WOUNDS IF IN BATTLE CANNOT HAVE BEEN SEPT 45 AS WAR ENDED 5/7/45. SUSPECT WOUND DATE TO BE 9/44.
BACK TO JUSTIN ORAL HISTORY ARMY BIOGRAPHIES HISTORY PAGE
Please Share your Stories! E-mail the Curator to share or discuss or with any questions!