Jean Thackeray told her story to her daughter-in-law Susan Thackeray in Logan, Utah.
Jean Thackeray told her story to her daughter-in-law Susan Thackeray in Logan, Utah. StoryCorps
Between 1942 and 1946, prisoner-of-war camps were opened across the United States. They held hundreds of thousands of foreign soldiers.
Jean Thackeray grew up near one of those camps in Tremonton, Utah. She encountered German POWs when they came to work on her father's farm.
"During the war, most of the men were gone, and so there was a lot of need for people to come and thin the sugar beets and to cultivate the potatoes," Thackeray says.
She and the soldiers would weed in separate areas of the farm.
"And then one night, when they were all through and I was still out in the field ... one of the soldiers was crying."
"What's wrong?" she asked a guard.
The soldier had lost a small Bible — a lifelong possession — while working in the field and was heartbroken over it.
"I stayed until I found the soldier's Bible in the field," Thackeray says. And when the soldier returned the next day, she gave it to him.
"He was so thankful," she says. "And of course he wanted to give me a hug, but he couldn't."
So, with a nickel borrowed from the guard, the POW made a "special little necklace for me," Thackeray says. "He had carved a little hole in the top and it looked like it was a half-moon."