|Former Calhoun resident Robert "Red" Stump, three time Purple Heart recipient, has died in Ohio, but his death was thought to have occurred much earlier by an old army buddy, the story featured on a TV series "It's a Miracle" in 2001.|
(Obituary appears on Herald 12/13/05)
The story, recalled and dramatized on the TV show:
For fifty-two years, Robert Adkins thought his best friend, Roy "Red" Stump, was
After all, hadn't he cradled his dying friend's head in his lap and
then watched a medic remove his dog tags?
"Everyone in the platoon was sure Roy was dead," Robert recalled one day in
April 1996 as he chatted with a stranger in a waiting room at Lorain
Community/ St. Joseph Regional Health Center in Lorain, Ohio. Robert was
waiting for his wife, Juanita, to return from cataract surgery. In the
waiting room, the conversation somehow turned to World War II.
"We were stationed in Holland and were watching a buddy defuse an anti-tank
mine when it blew up," Adkins said.
The man working on the mine was killed,
and shrapnel struck Stump in the head, chest, and other parts of his body.
As they continued to talk, Robert, now seventy-two years old, was astonished
to learn that the stranger, like him, had served in the 787th Anti-Aircraft
Battalion in 1944.
Skeptical about the coincidence, they began grilling each
other, as a test.
"Who was the platoon sargeant?" Robert asked the stranger.
The man answered correctly. "Was anyone killed in that battalion?" he shot
"I just told you, my best buddy, Roy D. Stump," Robert replied.
The man smiled and said, "I hate to disappoint you, but I am very much
Robert sat stunned. "I thought he was going to have a heart attack," Stump
"I hadn't recognized him at first, but I knew who he was as soon
as he said his nickname was 'Sloop.' Mine was 'Little Red.' I had bright red
hair then," said Stump, stroking his gray crewcut.
To prove his identity, the seventy-one-year-old Stump produced a faded copy
of his discharge papers and a driver's license with his name on it.
two men hugged and "everybody in the waiting room thought we were crazy,"
Miracle or coincidence?
Miracle that one man presumed dead had, in fact,
survived; or coincidence that he happened to meet his best friend over fifty
How do you explain such things in life?