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Veteran reunites with Italians he rescued as children during World War II

'I was so happy to see 3 children now grown up,' Martin Adler says
Martin Adler with Italians he saved as children
Posted at 5:57 PM, Nov 03, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-03 18:40:13-04

BOCA RATON, Fla. — A World War II veteran who lives in Boca Raton was recently reunited with three Italian children he saved from Nazis nearly 80 years ago.

Martin Adler, 97, said it all happened when he was assigned to look for the enemy possibly hiding in houses in the village of Monterenzio.

However, what he found was a friendship that continues decades later.

Martin Adler with his daughter Rachelle Donley
Martin Adler and his daughter Rachelle Donley speak about the moment he rescued the three children in 1944 while serving in Italy during World War II.

"He's been telling me the story since I was young, and it was his one happy day during the war, besides hearing the war ended," said Adler's daughter Rachelle Donley.

Adler was 20 years old when he was assigned to look for Nazis hiding in homes in Italy.

"They were told to check the homes for hiding Germans after three or four days of battle. They entered with their Thompson machine guns, and the safeties off," Donley said. "They entered this one home, and they saw a basket shaking and making noises. Three children came out as a woman came running in at the same time screaming, 'Bambinis, Bambinis,'"

The family was glad to see American soldiers and Adler was thankful the kids were not hurt.

His daughter said he carried a camera with him, taking photos of the moment.

Martin Adler saves children during WWII
Martin Adler rescued these three children during World War II while they hid from German soldiers.

"He took this picture that he has cherished for 77 years and always wondered what happened to these three kids," Donley said.

Adler's daughter thought maybe she could find the children again through social media.

"An Italian journalist, Matteo Incerti, got in touch with me, and said, 'I'm going to help you find those kids,'" Donley said.

They found the three children, who are now in their 80s, and Adler and his family recently flew to Italy to meet them.

"He was sitting on the plane, and when he heard the kids were waiting for him at the gate, he started saying, 'When are we getting up, when are we getting off,'" Donley said.

It was a hero's welcome for Adler. Members of the media were there to take pictures and ask him questions.

Despite his age, Adler still remembers the day he met the kids.

"It meant a lot. It meant the lives of three children. It meant what I accomplished by saving their lives. It meant a lot to me," Adler said. "I think I cried a little. I was so happy to see three children now grown up."

Adler spent time getting to know them again during his visit to Italy. Wherever he visited, people knew the story of his bravery.

"I felt great. I felt like a father again," Adler said.