Eli Rafal

by | Oct 16, 2015 | Obituaries

Watkinsville , Ga.—Eli Rafal, 91, of Watkinsville, died Wednesday, September 30, 2015.

Born in Norfolk, Va., he was the proud son of the late Solomon Rafal and Bertha Fine Rafal.

During World War II , Mr. Rafal was in the service of the U.S. Army for 36 months, with almost 24 months in the most forward areas of the South West Pacific, mainly New Guinea. Before shipping north to New Guinea he served at the headquarters of the Supreme Allied Command, General Douglas MacArthur commanding. A few months later Mr. Rafal volunteered with 49 other MP’s to go north to the front to meet the “enemy.” He was one of 10 motorcycle couriers who relayed messages back and forth between the U.S. forward base and the Australian forward base after the Japanese had broken the U.S. code. Riding a Harley Davidson 42WLA motorcycle through the sandy jungle roads of “No Man’s Land,” he delivered critical messages. He was one of three survivors. Immediately after returning to the states, Mr. Rafal contracted malaria and was treated at the Naval Hospital in Portsmouth, Va.

After the war he came home and married Sadie Ellen Manning, to whom he remained devoted for 56 years. He remained by her side, heroically caring for her through her battle with Alzheimer’s. During his life he worked as a pharmaceutical salesman, McDonald’s manager, and small business owner. In “retirement,” he worked his favorite job as a field representative for Gallo wines.

He was a proud father, father-in-law, and grandfather. He is survived by his three children, Diane Rafal Gresham and her husband, Ed, of Bozeman, Montana; Ron Rafal and his wife, Elena, of Superior, Colorado; Sam Rafal and his wife, Sandi, of Athens, Georgia, as well as his five grandchildren Noah, Levi, Asa, Aaron, and Stacey.

A graveside service for the family took place at the National Cemetery in Canton, Ga.

Contributions may be made in his honor to the Disabled Veterans of America at www.dav.org/ or the Holocaust Museum in Washington D.C. at http://www.ushmm.org/.

Condolences may be offered at www.bridgesfuneral.com.