World War II veteran Martin Adler has traveled to Italy to reunite with three Italian siblings he nearly shot in 1944. For more than seven decades, he’s treasured a black and white photo of himself as a 20-year-old American soldier with the three kids he saved from the Nazis. And his daughter,RachelleDonley, helped track them down so they could meet up again.
Adler and the children first met when his unit was in their village of Monterenzio during the war. Their mother had hidden the kids, who were all between three and six-years-old, in a wicker basket as soldiers approached. Adler heard something in the basket and thinking it was a German soldier, he pointed his machine gun at it, but their mother ran in screaming and stopped him. Adler says she’s the “real hero” for standing in front of his gun that day.
During the pandemic, Donley decided to search for the siblings for her father. She turned to social media and an Italian journalist helped her discover their identities. So her 97-year-old dad just flew to Italy to see Bruno, MafaldaandGiuliana Naldi- all now in their 80s - for the first time since the war. “I am so happy and so proud of him,” Donley says of her dad. “Because he hesitated, there have been generations of people.”