Clipped From The Courier-Journal
STAFF COLUMNIST From a dead end to a possibility, place of rest sought for ring "Mil: HILL Ever concerned, Alfred Montgomery included a photograph of the wedding ring in his most recent package from Northern Ireland. It's a bent, twisted ring with the inscription "Ruth Larry 102139." Montgomery lives in Belfast. As a child his father had led him on walks up nearby Cave Hill, a steep, wooded place near Belfast Loch where on June 1, 1944, a U.S. Air Force B-17 Flying Fortress crashed in low clouds and burned, killing all 10 crew members. The B-17, on its way to England, was forced to refuel in Northern Ireland. It was circling the airport when it hit the hill at about 600 feet, the pilot unaware the hill was hidden in the clouds. Over the years, as highways and houses en-crouched on its solitude, Montgomery would comb the rocky, peaty soil near the wreck site, picking up small pieces of fabric, plexiglass, even a uniform. One day in 1994 50 years after the crash he bent to pick up what he thought was a steel washer. When he got it home, cleaned it up a little, he saw it was the wedding ring. . When he saw the words "Ruth Larry,'1 he knew this was something personal, something special, something a family might want. He began his search, writing Air Force agencies in the United States, making phone calls. "I had a feeling it was sort of my duty to do it," he said by phone. The search became even more complicated when the 8th U.S. Air Force records indicated there were two men named Larry on the doomed B-17. After going through the extensive personnel files, even family letters, supplied by the Air Force, Montgomery narrowed his search to Staff Sgt. Lawrence E. Dundon of Louisville. Those records from the mid-1940s show the last known address of Dundon's mother, Daisy Dundon, to be 231 N. 26th St. The last known address of Dundon's wife, Ruth Dundon, was 219 N. 33rd St. Dundon's body was so badly burned in the crash it could not be identified at first. Finally identified through dental records, the body was first buried near Belfast in Lisnabreney Cemetery, now a grassy field. By family request the body was later moved to a U.S. military cemetery near Cambridge, England. The timing of all that is cloudy, the lack of information provided to loved ones during and just after that great war almost cruel. On July 20, 1945, some 13 months after the crash, Ruth Dundon wrote a letter to her late husband's superiors that read: "Dear Sirs: My husband, Staff Sgt. Lawrence Dundon, was reported killed in a crash on June 1, 1944. I would appreciate any information you could supply concerning his burial. To date I have not received any information. . . ." Ruth Dundon also asked for a photo of her husband's grave. Two months later she received a reply. No burial information was available; no photographs were possible. In 1947 Dundon's mother wrote seeking similar information, also asking "what is the scenery like around'my son's grave?" There is no record of a reply. In 1949 she wrote to ask what service was said at her son's grave? The stiff answer came back . . . "military services at the time of burial." A search through old Louisville city directories showed Lawrence and Ruth Dundon once lived in the 2600 block of West Market Street. Both worked for printing shops. A search of more recent city directories and the Louisville phone book did not reveal any Dundons who were related to Lawrence or Ruth. One woman a Dundon did say she believed many Dundons came from Ireland, an ancestral birthplace that would have taken Lawrence E. Dundon full circle. By phone, fax, cassette tape and mail, Alfred Montgomery has dutifully sought the Dundon family, someone who might want the wedding ring. The ring is almost sacred to him now. He left some of the original dirt on it and has it locked away for safekeeping. "I feel that I should make every effort to try to return the ring to any family still alive. Failing that, the U. S. forces in Cambridge, England, have agreed to place it within the grave." If you know something of Lawrence or Ruth Dundon, please write me in care of The Courier-Journal, 525 W. Broadway, P.O. Box 740031, Louisville 40201-7431. As Montgomery said in his final letter from Belfast: "I look forward to hearing from you." Bob Hill's column appears in SCENE each Saturday, and also in the Tuesday and Thursday Metro sections of The Courier-Journal. To reach the guy, give him a call at (502) 582-4646.