Steve and Jean Gladitsch of Vesta never met Steve's uncle Harvey Gladitsch, because he died long before they were born.
Harvey, a Vesta farm boy and the son of Emil and Anna Gladitsch, was born Oct. 14, 1919, was inducted into the U.S. Army Oct. 20, 1941 at Fort Snelling.
He was 22 years old.
Gladitsch never reached his 24th birthday, as he was killed in action Feb. 19, 1943 while serving in North Africa.
Despite the fact his nephew never met him the family has made a connection with him through documents that have been passed from one generation to the next.
Those documents tell the story of life and death during World War II, including a letter from the U.S. War Department and signed by Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Steve and Jean also have the purple heart Gladitsch received posthumously, the gold star citation and a copy of Life Magazine that includes a listing of hundreds of names of the war dead from the first 18 months of the United States' involvement in World War II.
Among those names is one under Vesta – Harvey Gladitsch.
Harvey's military trunk, as well as a photo of him from Fort Knox, Kentucky are in the Gladitsch home.
"I haven't done a lot of research to find out more about Harvey, but I sure would like to," said Jean, adding each time she sees the items they have from his past ignites that spark to do a little more digging.
Gladitsch was sent to Fort Knox for his basic training and then went on to New Jersey before being sent to Northern Ireland and England for even more training.
Gladitsch landed in North Africa Nov. 7, 1942 and saw his first action in Algeria. He was then sent to Tunisia where he took part in a battle that started Feb. 14. It was just five days later, Feb. 19, 1943 when he was killed in action. Word of his death reached his family in March 1943. In April 1945 American Legion Post 306 in Vesta was incorporated, and to honor one of its own, it became the Harvey Gladitsch Post. Gladitsch is buried in Africa, but a stone is place with his name in the Vesta cemetery.