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World War II buddies, Storks attend to their own
Milton Holt, age 82, finally overcame his grief to honor the pledge he made to his Army buddy during World War II.
 

During World War II, Army buddies Milburn Holt and Rolla Ward pledged that if either one died in combat, the survivor would make contact with the other man’s relatives. Ward was killed on Okinawa on June 9, 1945, but a grief-stricken Holt couldn’t bring himself to face Ward’s family. That changed this month when Holt, 82, finally visited Ward’s son and daughter in Fresno, Calif. In a tearful meeting, he told them how their father met his end, and how much he had loved them. “I feel like a chapter of my life has been closed out,” Holt said.

For centuries, storks have been icons of the Alsace-Lorraine region of France, symbols of luck to the homes where they nested. But time and migration took their toll, and by 1983 the stork population had dwindled to just nine pairs in the entire region. So French officials undertook a vigorous repopulation program. Conservators kept the young birds in aviaries to discourage their migration, encouraged the older birds to stick around with special treats, and erected screens to prevent the storks from nesting on top of dangerous utility poles. Today, the stork population has soared to 270 pairs. “We hope to convince people that if it worked for storks,” said conservator Gérard Wey, “it will work for other species.”

 

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