Cherished World War II bible with 80-year history returned home
PORTER CORNERS – Lieutenant Edsel McKnight never returned from World War II. However, 80 years later, something he had with him in battle is rightfully back home where it belongs.
The story begins in the skies over Normandy Beach, France. Lt. Edsel J. McKnight, 24, a farm boy from Saratoga County, was piloting a P47 Thunderbolt during the D-Day invasion in June 1944 when he was shot down and killed.
Family members believe inside his flight jacket there was a miniature Bible.
“My understanding is that his mother gave it to him,” said Fay McKnight-Fagnant, Edsel’s sister-in-law. “It was in his pocket at the time of World War II to shield his heart, and unfortunately it didn’t, but it came back.”
The bible became a cherished heirloom for the McKnight family, although they lost track of it in the 1980s.
Fast-forward to just recently, McKnight’s bible turned up in Colonie. Mark Moroukian thinks his mother purchased it at a garage sale.
“We just found it and researched it a little bit, and we’re lucky enough to make the connection, and we’re so happy it’s in the hands of Lt. McKnight’s family,” Moroukian said.
“They found the bible, and I wasn’t done with it,” said Ava Coogan, Moroukian’s niece, “I was the one who kept looking and found the note inside underneath the label.
After finding a note, a name, and a phone number scribbled inside the bible, the Moroukian’s contacted the McKnights and returned the bible Thursday morning to the grateful family.
“If it could talk, I wonder what it would say,” Karen McKnight-Dowen, Edsel’s niece, said. “Where has it been? Whose lives has it touched? So now it’s going to have to go where we know it is, where it is all the time.”
“That’s a good thing for our family,” McKnight-Fagnant said. “We can not only relive history but to know that that survived, because God is real anyway.”
McKnight-Fagnant says her first husband, Raymond, who was Edsel’s brother, also had a heart shield Bible with him during the war. When a bullet struck the bible, it saved his life.
Of the three McKnight brothers buried in Maplewood Cemetery in Corinth, Edsel is the only one whose remains were never found. The gravestone erected there is considered a perpetual reminder that he lived his life, and his heroic actions helped save the world from tyranny.