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Lela & Joe

A True love Story

By Terry D. Janes

(Thanks to Ed and Doris Portley for the photos!)



Nearly sixty years after his death in combat, Lela Eitel finally gets to visit the grave of her once-Fiancée, T/4 Joseph F. DeLaurentis with her Daughter, Chris!


Many people have read Lela Eitel and her loving Husband, Howard's hard work here on this website, transcribing the A Company Journal of the 702nd Tank Battalion, for instance, or the many other things this quiet, unassuming, loving Lady has volunteered to do out of love.  Not many people know why, or even understand her connection to "Patton's Troubleshooters".  Let me tell you a little about this very sweet, loving lady.  Lela Eitel was a young, impressionable girl in 1944 when she met and fell in love with T/4 Joseph DeLaurentis.  Their love was pure and unadulterated.  They corresponded regularly while he was off fighting the war.  But for the fact that Joe was killed in combat, he and Lela would have been married after the war.  They made plans for that marriage.  When Joe was killed, Lela was crushed.  Eventually, she married someone else, and had children.  Because of her husband's abuse, she divorced him for the sake of her children.


Much later, she married a very fine, loving, understanding man named Howard Eitel.  Howard knew that deep in her heart, she had never got over Joe DeLaurentis, and that her love for him was pure and good.  Howard did not feel threatened by her love for this long-dead US soldier.  In fact, he encouraged her to honor Joe's memory.  Lela was invited to join the Red Devils as an Honorary Member by the Association President, and later she eventually met me.  Pete Porreca, and numerous other Red Devils and I encouraged her to attend the reunion so that she might meet some of Joe's friends face to face, so that she could see the men her Joe thought so much of, and they of him.  Lela was excited at getting the opportunity to meet those who loved her late Fiancée Joseph DeLaurentis, and those she has read so much about through my book and the website.  After the reunion, Lela went to the cemetery to visit Joe's grave.  She also hunted down the grave of Howard Daniels, who was badly wounded in the same incident that killed Joe DeLaurentis.  She found Howard Daniels & his wife's graves abandoned, uncared for and overgrown.  Lela has cancer, and knows that each day is a gift from God, and she may not be able to meet Joe's friends, or visit Joe's grave again.  Knowing her, she will do so, if God grants it to her.  So, this year's trip to Pennsylvania was very important to Lela!






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