|Borus Family Discovers WWII Story|
Thursday, November 7, 2002
THURSDAY, NOV. 7 TELEGRAM & GAZETTE
So I've Heard column
The first anniversary of 9/11/01 brought a recall of heroic and heartbreaking stories. Many were about widows and children still trying to find closure.
While the magnitude of 9/11 made it different, recovery from unexpected losses are always slow to heal. Take the case of siblings Judith Borus-Edwards, now of Weston, W. Va., and Robert E. Borus of Webster, a retired DPW foreman.
They were young children when their father, Chief Petty Officer Felix E. Borus, U.S. Navy, lost his life in a frightful storm that brought his convoy into a cove near St. Lawrence and Lawn, Newfoundland. Two destroyers and a supply ship went aground.
CPO Borus was the first Webster serviceman to die during World War II. More than 200 sailors perished in what remains the worst sea disaster in United States naval history.
Rose (Cazeault) Borus learned of the tragedy through a telegram Feb. 22, 1942. "The Navy Department exceedingly regrets to advise you that your husband, Felix Edward Borus, chief machinists mate, United States Navy, lost his life in the performance of duty in the service of his country February 18."
Mrs. Borus died in 1965 "never knowing what went on," according to her son. "What she had to go on was part of his record, and information he had been advanced to Warrant Officer a few weeks before he died."
Robert Borus retains an album that shows his father, his sister and himself holding hands. The family lived on Church Court in Webster at the time, and the old St. Louis Church is in the background.
Mr. Borus grew up cherishing that photograph and wondering what his father's ship was doing in the North Atlantic? The US had a base in Newfoundland, where the destroyers and the supply ship were headed, but what made it important?
Judith (Borus) Edwards experienced similar doubts. A retired nurse-practitioner, she picked up a magazine in a dental office one day in 1999 and found a story about the 1942 disaster. People in the Newfoundland villages had saved many of the sailors in her father's convoy.
"She got a hold of me and said 'we're going up there,'" says Mr. Borus. They learned a great deal through interviews, from a book, and in a Newfoundland & Labrador guide, "Celebrating 50 Years in Canada." Ms. Edwards and Mr. Borus found closure to doubts that lingered for 57 years.
The St. Lawrence town manager told them about a book detailing the disaster, said Mr. Borus. "Standing Into Danger; The wrecking of the U.S.S. Pollux and the U.S.S. Truxtun in the North Atlantic," by Cassie Brown, brought reassurance to the siblings. Their father had been aboard the Truxtun, a destroyer. Another destroyer, the U.S.S. Wilkes had also gone aground but was refloated.
"Someone was trying to help those guys," says Mr. Borus. "They weren't alone out in an ocean. Some of them were saved." Ms. Edwards and Mr. Borus' doubts about their father's ship, and what it was doing in a cove near Lawn and St. Lawrence are answered in the anniversary booklet.
"In 1942, two American warships ran aground near St. Lawrence. Townspeople rescued more than 200 by descending steep cliffs to pluck sailors from the raging surf below." Survivors were cared for in the homes of the villagers. America subsequently built a hospital in St. Lawrence as a mark of gratitude.
"Why were warships at St. Lawrence," the guide asks. "It turns out they were there to safeguard the flour spar, a radioactive mineral used in the manufacture of the first atomic bombs. The mineral was mined for decades, and many miners died of lung disease associated with their work. A statue in the town commemorates both the wartime disaster and rescue, and the loss of the miners."
The dedication reads, "To the men of the USS Pollux and the USS Truxtun who were all heroes, and to the people of St. Lawrence and Lawn, Newfoundland, for th
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