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George T Gant-Return to Sender

Updated: May 1, 2022

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In 1962, Elvis Presley had a huge hit record entitled "Return to Sender". I always liked that song, however, I never thought about the title applying to me personally. But as I searched for a living relative for George Terry Gant Sr, a waist gunner on the Rum Boogie Crew, it totally did.

George was born in Shelbyville, Tennessee, about an hour south of Nashville. In 2013, when I was looking for a living relative for him, a first occurred: I easily found a lot of addresses associated with his name, all of them located in and around Nashville. This seemed to be a good thing because previously, whenever I had looked for RBC family members, many times they had remained in the same geographical area. All told, I found fourteen Tennessee addresses associated with Mr. Gant: eight in Columbia, three in Hermitage, one in Cookeville, one in Nashville, and one in Manchester for a ninety-year-old man. I thought to myself, this is going to be easy; there are lots of relatives involved. It also gave me some hope that George himself might still be alive.

By this time, since I had already found a living relative for every other man on the Rum Boogie Crew, I had some well-developed people finding skills. I didn’t know it at the time, but it ended up that George had four children: two girls and two boys. What I also didn’t know was that his oldest son was named after him: George Terry Gant Jr. Had I known that, it would have explained why there were so many addresses: some were for the father and some were for the son. At the time, though, I just thought the family moved a lot (which also ended up being true). Certainly, a contributing factor while trying to figure all this out was my personal situation at the time. I rarely had even a small block of uninterrupted time to to sit down and try to put all the pieces together.

The envelopes below are a good representation of the frustration I felt about finding even

one Gant who was related to George. As you can see, I sent form letters to many different cities in Tennessee; all were returned. The form letters contained my contact information, and in one case, a very nice lady who currently lived at one of the addresses I had sent a letter to actually emailed me back. She let me know that the Gant’s had lived at her current address six years prior. She also told me that she too had tried to find an address for them but hadn’t been able to. I really appreciated her efforts and her sympathy, and it made me feel better that she hadn’t succeeded either.

So, after all this searching, George Gant still remained the only crew member for whom I had no living relative. That about killed me, but the search was also killing me, so I did something that I rarely do - I gave up. At that point, I had two teen-age kids and a marriage that was falling apart; I just couldn’t deal with any more frustration or failure.

Fast forward four years to 2017. After all my prior efforts to find a Gant relative, in January of 2017, I mailed off another form

letter to Tennessee, this time to George

Terry Gant Jr. The passage of time and a better perspective were key. After sorting through what I already had and doing a new search with a clear head, it actually wasn’t that difficult. My letter to this possible son, as usual, included all my contact information. The result? As I was sitting in a teacher in-service with 40 or 50 of my colleagues listening to my principal drone on, my cell phone rang. The caller ID showed the person’s location, and I knew immediately who it was. I answered my phone in the middle of the meeting, started crying when I heard his voice, and then ran RBC Waist Gunner George T. Gant

out of the room to talk to George Gant’s son.

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