Finding Uncle Earl

A Veterans History Project to honor one of our American heroes

By Early Langley

One month, almost to the day, before the Marines of the Fifth Division hoisted the American flag atop Mount Surlbachi over Iwo Jima, my Uncle Earl Zimpfer was killed in combat by a sniper on Luzon on January 22, 1945. Victory escaped him and it was not until four years later that the message of his remains reached my grandparents. 

I never met him. The only living relative who knew him is my Aunt Ethelyn, who lives in Ohio.  She is now 99 years old and not able to speak well.

The quest to find Uncle Earl came to light after being on the Board of Trustees of the National Court Reporters Foundation. Having been assured that the honor of his memory would best be preserved under strict temperature and storage controls at the Library of Congress, I agreed to submit all original documents. It was not easy.

However, when I found out that the paper on which Uncle Earl wrote to my Grandmother Margaret Zimpfer was so thin that the ink bleeds through, I thought it best to scan everything, make a book, and ship it to the Library.  

I hope that you’re as inspired as I am to be part of this honored project.

Early Langley, RMR, RSA, is a freelance court reporter from Danville, Calif.