In a fashion it was a reunion Thursday at the Rotary Club of Warwick only the “silent hero,” Sgt. Donald H. Rubery, who grew up in the Norwood section of the city and died weeks after the D-Day invasion on July 15, 1944 while fighting the battle of Sainte-Lo, was only present in pictures and in the words he wrote to his sweetheart back home.
Sgt. Rubery would have remained that “silent hero” had it not been for Thalia Wood, head of the Toll Gate Social Studies department and her student Rebecca Carcieri and a program that is part of National History Day. Wood and Carcieri was one of 15 teacher-student teams selected from across the country for the Normandy: Sacrifice for Freedom Albert H. Small Student and Teacher Institute. Once selected, the team researched Warwick residents who had lost their lives in World War II and were buried at the Normandy American Cemetery. They knew Sgt. Rubery was one of the Warwick soldiers who had lost his life soon after the invasion. After a story appeared in the Beacon, his relatives, the Frasers, contacted the pair. The Frasers provided photos and letters.
In addition, the team visited Washington D.C., where Carcieri did research in the National Archives, further enriching her understanding of the era and what Sgt. Rubery encountered. Then last June, as part of the program Wood and Carcieri traveled to Normandy, visiting the locations where Sgt. Rubery fought, died and is buried.
Carcieri recounted her work, including a website she created for Sgt. Rubery and read the eulogy she delivered at his gravesite. Her audience at the service club meeting included four Frasers, all descendants of the “silent hero.” She and Wood gave them all small jars of sand from Utah and Omaha Beaches.