ETX veteran shares story of true love, and true friendship - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

ETX veteran shares story of true love, and true friendship

HENDERSON, TX (KLTV) -

One East Texas man helped give us our freedom today by fighting in some of the biggest battles of World War Two, what kept him alive was true love and true friendship.

"That's the guy that kept the picture for 48 years," said James Buster Duran about his friend.

Duran and his friend Wallace Stelly both served on the front lines in World War Two.

They both kept the telephone lines open between the Battalion Headquarters and the different companies in combat.

But when everything went quite on the front, Buster was given a break.

"They gave me a three day R & R and when I started to leave, I gave him that picture and told him to keep it till I got back," said Duran.

The picture was of Jo, the girl that captured Duran's heart.

"I didn't want anything to happen to it and I didn't want to carry it with me. I was afraid I would loose it or something," said Duran.

The three day R & R turned out to be a permanent move. The morning of the third day, was the beginning of the Battle of the Bulge.

"When we woke up that morning, they were throwing artillery on us. About 5:30 a.m. they started throwing artillery on us, so I never did make it back with my company area," said Duran.  

While defending his new camp, Duran was assigned to a fox hole, where the cold weather took its toll.

"My feet froze that night and there was one ambulance left up there, and they put me in that ambulance," said Duran.  

Duran spent six weeks in an English hospital.

The injuries to his feet ended his combat service, but he couldn't help but to think of his friend, Stelly.

"I didn't know what happened to him, cause I knew lots of them were captured and some of them were killed and I didn't know what happened to him," said Duran.  

Duran headed back to the states where he later married his sweetheart, Jo.

"We just kind of got along good and everything, and she put up with me," said Duran.

Two years after the wedding, Duran and Jo went to New Orleans, and thought they would try to locate Wallace Stelly, since they were near his hometown.

Sure enough, they found him. Their friendship hadn't skipped a beat, and tried to stay in contact after the war. But it wouldn't be for almost 50 years later, before Wallace showed Buster, he kept his word.  

"He got out of his pick up and started to go where we were and he was just a grinning and I knew something was funny to him, him grinning like he was. He reached in his coat pocket and said, 'Here you told me to keep this for you and I kept it,' " said Duran.

The picture symbolized true loyalty between two men who fought for our freedom today.

Duran wife of nearly sixty five years, passed away three years ago. But Duran and Stelly continue their friendship still today.

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