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Solving a WWII Mystery Using Fold3 and Newspapers.com

When Erik and Sonni Bornmeier purchased Sonni’s great-grandmother’s home several years ago, they had no idea that the military footlocker stored in the basement would take them on an incredible journey of discovery to find the remains of a WWII pilot shot down in France. The Bornmeiers’ used military records from Fold3, newspaper articles from Newspapers.com, numerous other sources, and some ingenious detective work to piece together the story of Sonni’s great uncle, 2nd Lt. George F. Wilson. He died in France in 1944 and to this day his remains have not been identified. Erik and Sonni are determined to bring him home. We share their journey in hopes that the tips and strategies they’ve learned along the way can help someone else in their research. 

2nd Lt. George F. Wilson

The journey to learn more about Uncle George began on Memorial Day in 2018 when the Bornmeiers’ watched Band of Brothers. Touched by the heroics of so many young soldiers, Erik and Sonni went to the basement and dusted off George’s footlocker. Inside they found a stack of letters from George to his mother. By the time they finished the last letter, they had come to know George and wanted to know what happened to him. 

The first answers came when Erik found a Missing Air Crew Report (MACR) on Fold3. The MACR revealed that George served in the 8th Air Force, 398th Bomb Group, 601st Squadron. On July 8, 1944, George was piloting a B-17 when enemy flak hit the plane severely wounding George. The plane was losing altitude and George ordered his crew of eight to bail out.

2nd Lt. George F. Wilson and Crew

Seven crew members were captured and taken POW, and one escaped with the help of the French Resistance. All eight returned home after the war and all reported that George was gravely injured, never bailed out, and went down with the plane.

Using the witness statements from the MACR, Erik learned that the German Army created a similar report to track all planes shot down. Those reports, called Kampf Flugzeuge (KU) reports, were captured by the US military after the war. Erik also learned French priests kept detailed reports of what they witnessed during the war. Using the information in the MACR, the KU report, and a French repository, Erik triangulated potential crash sites.

Page From MACR Identifying Crew Members

One witness in the MACR described that George avoided a small town and a castle before crashing into a field. The next step for Erik was to head to France and try to find the crash site.

Erik’s quest led him to the small town of Monchy-Cayeux. The town matched the criteria in the witness statement (town, castle and nearby fields). Erik met a local journalist and with his help, they started questioning the town’s older residents. They found three eyewitnesses who were young children during the war but remembered seeing a plane crash. One said, “I remember it as if it were yesterday.” They guided Erik to a field and before long Erik started to find pieces of debris. Word traveled and the town united to help Erik. A young man showed up with a metal detector. Before long, they found parts of a fuselage, gauges, bullets, and plexiglass from a windshield. They found a crash site!

Debris From Crash Site

Erik’s time in France was short, but he has since returned several more times. Each time he pieces together more of the story. The residents of Monchy-Cayeux have rallied behind Erik and are anxious to help him find answers. Two brothers who still live close to the crash site gave a detailed account of locals gathering up weapons from the plane and throwing them in the river. A local diver explored the river but failed to find anything. Another report said George’s body was moved to a nearby family graveyard. A third witness remembered a priest coming to bless a grave on the edge of the field. The search to find George’s remains continues.

In the meantime, back home in the US, Erik and Sonni started searching Newspapers.com to find information on George’s crew. They found clippings for many of the crew members, and before long, they learned that two of George’s crew members were still alive! Erik hopped on a plane and had a wonderful meeting with them. They provided Erik with personal accounts of that day and filled in many of the gaps.

Erik and Sonni Bornmeier

The Bornmeiers’ are working with the Defense POW/MIA Accounting Agency (DPAA), the government agency charged with bringing home the remains of Americans unaccounted for. They continue to research and are anxious to return to France. Residents of Monchy-Cayeux have taken ownership of this project and have begun holding town meetings to research the town’s history and the role it played in WWII. George is one of more than 72,000 Americans that remain unaccounted for from WWII. Each day, efforts are being made to bring those soldiers home. To learn the story of your WWII soldier, start your search today using Fold3 and Newspapers.com!

77 Comments

  1. My birth father, George W Jordan Jr., served in the US Army during WW2 as an officer in the Army specialized training program beginning in 1942. He was a student in Chemical Engineering at Georgia Institute of Technology before entering the government program. His family told me he traveled all over North Africa from 1942 trough 1945. I would love to find out what he did in North Africa and where exactly he worked or was stationed, but I don’t know where to look. FOLD3 he has very little on North Africa other than photographs. The few articles I have found about him in Newspapers.com are more about his life after the War. I haven’t been able to find anything in Stars & Stripes either. Where should I turn?

    • What was his middle name? Where and when born? There are a lot of George W Jordans born about 1932 +/- 2 years and many family trees on Ancestry that might yield a little bit of information that can lead you to a contact with more information.

    • Thanks for the thought, Michael. There are only two trees that come up for George Washington Jordan Jr (21 Sep 1921- 31 Dec 2016), and mine is more complete. The relative with whom I have been corresponding is my closest DNA match in my paternal line. She has been to see her father, one of my half-brothers, and looked through his papers without finding anything. Even though her grandmother is still alive (George Jr’s wife), she is not well enough to be questioned. Most of George Jr’s papers are in storage, but the family has not had time to go there and look through them. I was hoping there might be some military source beyond FOLD3.

    • According to the ROTC photo you posted, he was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in June 1944. That was the rank on the Fold 3 image of his report shown in your entry (fuzzy low res image, unfortunately), where he was listed as the investigating officer working on repatriation of plunder and artifacts. You can actually contact the records center in St. Louis as a direct descendant and find out more of his service records providing they were not destroyed in the fire in 1973. FORTUNATELY, this source says it did not involve retirees or reservists alive in 1973. https://www.va.gov/records/get-military-service-records/reconstruct-records/

      “Were my records destroyed in the 1973 NPRC fire in St. Louis?
      Your records may have been destroyed in the fire if you were discharged from either:

      The Army between November 1, 1912, and January 1, 1960. The fire destroyed 80% of the records held for Veterans discharged from the Army during this time period. The fire didn’t involve records for retirees and Reservists who were alive on July 12, 1973.
      Or the Air Force between September 25, 1947, and January 1, 1964. The fire destroyed 75% of the records held for Veterans discharged from the Air Force during this time period with surnames beginning with “Hubbard” and running through the end of the alphabet.
      Learn more about the 1973 NPRC fire”

    • I’m sorry, I meant 1922 +/- 2 years

    • Sandy, Here is website to get the Standard Form 180.
      You are eligible to get your dad records through the military at the following website and give them all the information you have on your dad. It will take some time but I got my records and my fathers WW-II records. You can also ask for his military medals but there are two different places to send the form as shown on the Standard Form 180. Hope that helps. http://www.archives.gov/research/order/standard-form-180.pdf

    • At the army war College in Carlisle Pennsylvania oh, there is a museum dedicated to the American Soldier. They have personal effects of soldiers and also help with research. Lots of information has been Declassified since 50 years have passed that have helped relatives piece together the stories of their loved ones. You might call there and see if they could provide any assistance to you and your search

    • Sandy, you should request your father’s service record from the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis. Many records burned in a fire in 1972 so what you need to do is request that they RECREATE the file, using records from other repositories. From her service record you should be able to learn what units he was assigned to and then research those units in order to learn what those units were doing.

    • NARA.gov
      National Archives Administration
      See if you can get his service record

    • If you have his date of birth and social security number, you can request copies of his military service record from the National Archives. If they find any records they may charge you for the copies but I think the cost is based on how many pages of records they locate.

    • My grandfather Donald F Hall, Sr was on Eisenhower’s staff at the Gibralter Command Post where the North African Campaign was prepared. There is a museum there that might offer clues. President Eisenhower’s Presidential Library may also be a source.

      I am researching family accounts from children of WW2 era parents as to how they experienced their parents life coping with PTSD, marriage failure, and the trauma they experienced. We all have memories of that time in our lives when dad would not share anything about their wartime experience. You may have something to share that you remember but never put it down in writing. I would love to hear from you.

  2. Several boys in my area were missing and their bodies never found.

  3. Thank God my Dad came home. 45 missions from D Day to the end of the War as a B-17 ball turret gunner.

    • My friend was a ball turret gunner in WWII also. He was very grateful to have survived, and used to say this poem to us:

      From my mother’s sleep I fell into the State,
      And I hunched in its belly till my wet fur froze.
      Six miles from earth, loosed from its dream of life,
      I woke to black flak and the nightmare fighters.
      When I died they washed me out of the turret with a hose.

      It was a horrible spot to be in, with no protection. They had a special hot water pressure hose to clean out the ball turret. I can’t believe what those brave kids endured.

    • Ron, your dad had one of the worst assignments in the Army Air Force. He was a true hero as were all the flyers who put country ahead of their own lives.
      Thank you to your dad for his sacrifices for all of us in the USA.

    • Why did he fly 45 missions? I thought you only had to fly 25.

  4. Sandy, as George Jordan’s birth daughter, I think you would be considered a direct relative. You might request a copy of George’s DD214 record from the military. The DD214 would tell you his job specialty and any medals he received, along with a trove of other information related to his service, Go to https://www.va.gov/records/get-military-service-records/ to read more about this. (Chances are, George’s DD214 form is in that stack of paperwork the family hasn’t had a chance to go through yet.) Once you have a little more specific info about his service from his DD214, you’ll be able to more knowledgeably target your research, as well as interview people who knew him or knew of him. Best of luck with your search!

    • Thank you so much for this information, Diana! I will try it and let you know what happens. And thank you, too, Roger, for the encouragement.

    • The records of 80% of veterans discharged between Nov. 1, 1912 and Jan. 1, 1960 were destroyed in a fire. Unfortunately, my father’s records were among them.

    • Unfortunately there was a fire at the facility where WW2 records were kept. If they were not destroyed in the fire they were damaged by water. When we asked for my fathers records there was only 2 pages that survived. Good luck I hope you find some info

    • Sandy, Once you get the records you can petition to have lost medals replaced. Many of the soldiers did not get their medals. You petition through specific military branch. It takes several months, but put them in a shadow box with a photo of your dad. It’s a wonderful keepsake.

  5. Hello Sandy,

    As a direct relative, you can write the US Government and request a copy of George’s service record. The service record may include all schools, award wright-ups, any orders he may have been given among other information. I think this would be a good place to start.

  6. My father, SSG Jesse James Montgomery, served through all of WWII and died in Vienna, Austria in December 1947 while occupation duty. All the family was told was that he was “found dead in his bed” when he didn’t show up to cook breakfast for the unit. (He was the unit mess Sargeant.). No further details were provided. His body was returned to the US for burial but I have always wondered about the cause of death. Newspaper account for that period stated that his was the second unexplained death to occur in Vienna. The other soldier had been killed in fight with Russians.

  7. My cousin died during the attack on Pearl Harbor. I only know only his first and last names. Cecil Smith. His parents were Basil and Mattie Ross Smith. He was in the navy or coast guard. He was born in 1921. I once saw an article about friendly fire, but have not been able to find it again. I believe he served on the Arizona. Can anyone help?

    • When I visited Pearl Harbor, there was a bookstore with several books about details of the attack. One listed all of the names of the soldiers killed during the attack. You can probably find your cousin’s name in one of those books or by checking to see if his name is listed on the memorial wall there.

    • If your cousin was assigned to the Arizona and was indeed killed on the Arizona when it exploded, there is a 99% chance that his name will be memorialized on the Arizona Memorial. I would look up the park service address for the Memorial and send them an inquiry, include a stamped and addressed envelope and it could speed things up for you. I have been to the memorial several times since it was opened. It is a beautiful tribute to those who gave thier lives that day.

    • Found this when I Googled Cecil Smith, Peral Harbor, Dec 7, 1941

      “Glendale (Kansas) men who served included Lawrence Helsel, Roy Martin, Steve DeLay, Cecil Smith, Dean Hillard, Evons Banbury, Paul Hillard, Vernon Hillard, Warren Hillard (KIA), Dean Hillard, Bob Miller (POW-Bataan Death March) and Harry Dean Fitzsimmons.

      Hope this is your Cecil Smith and helps.

    • Frank Bassil Smith 1893-1963. Born TX
      Mattie O. Ross Smith 1894-1982. Born AR
      buried Memorial Park Cemetery, Tulsa OK
      Their son, Cecil R. Smith, was born March 6, 1921 in Paris, TX. He stood 5 foot 6 and he had a scar on his left arm.
      Cecil died in 3 July 1990 in Texas. He served in the US Army from 1940 to 1945. He might have been a private in the medical corps.

    • There is no Cecil Smith listed on the wall of the Memorial at the USS Arizona. I’ve been there twice but just googled “list of deaths on USS Arizona” and all casualties come up. There were 335 survivors.

  8. I found in my dad’s things after his death, a pin with an anchor on one end and an oak leaf on the other. Dad was in the army. Anyone know what this pin represents?

  9. Try golden Arrow Research he may be on Face Book. He provides a great service for this type of research.

  10. I do not have any information on this person. I am trying to get information on my father who was in WWII. I believe he landed in France after D day and spent the rest of the war going across France and into Germany. I am going to Normandy in August of this year and would really like to find out where he came ashore? His contact information is:
    Francis A Colby Army serial No 37 283 909.He was in the HQ BTRY 124th AAA gun BN on his discharge papers. So he arrived in ETO what ever that is on 1 July 1944 and left on September 18, 1945.

    The battles were Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes, and Central Europe. What is the best way to try and get this information.

    • ETO = European Theater of Operations (Normandy Invasion). You might want to look up the book :Heiser Chronicles World War II” as it details a member of 124th gun battalion & their experiences. (https://history.army.mil/books/wwii/11-9/ETO.htm). AAA appears to be Antiaircraft Artillary Battalion.
      It appears records for 124th AAA gun battalion are in Box 272 located at Dwight Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Kansas.

    • My father served in the U.S. Army during most of WWII, being discharged before the end of the was. He was part of the reinforcements sent to Attu Is. one week after the invasion started. After that he was transferred, eventually “landing on the beach in Normandy on the 101st day after the invasion”. The quotes were his words. This might be where your father landed.
      After landing, my father fought in France and Germany, and was wounded during a small incident on the “Brest Penninsula”. Not sure of the correct spelling. He was evacuated to England for treatment and recovery. I don’t know if he ever returned to Germany. I do know that he began having problems with pleurisy about that time, and was finally told that if he could stay out of sick call for at least 45 days, he would be eligible for return to the States. He managed to do that, and was reassigned and eventually discharged. He carried some lead fragments in his shoulder for the rest of his life, and was receiving a monthly disability check for most of the time I was living at home as a child. It didn’t amount to a lot, and was definitely not enough to survive on. The cause of his pleurisy was found to be that he was allergic to coffee (!!??!!).
      I managed a few years ago to get a copy of his DD214, but it didn’t provide much info that we didn’t already know. I have looked here on Fold3, and the info on him is _severely_ incorrect. The only things in the record that are correct are his name, service branch, and home area.
      One other source for information that I know exists is the ” First Sergent’s Daily Reports”. I have spoken with one person who had seen them, but couldn’t remember where on the Net he had. The information he was able to tell me “fit my father to a T”. Accessing them would definitely require knowing exactly what his unit number, location, and assignment was.
      I have also been told by one gentleman who worked in the local VS Medical center, that all of the records lost in the fire in 1973 were backed up “somewhere”. That’s most likely on microfiche, and will be hard to find as the material was not well cataloged.
      I hope that what I have written helps someone in some way get the correct information that they are searching for. I have the feeling that there is way more to my father’s story than even he knew, and it will require quite a bit more digging to get to it.
      Just in case someone here may know another part of it, here is what I remember of his information:
      Ivan L. Bramlet.
      B. Dec. 18, 1915, Wallowa, OR
      D. Apr. 22, 2011, Prescott, AZ, at the VA CLC
      Served in:
      Fourth Infantry Regiment
      Company “b”, 1937 (basic training), Ft. George Wright, WA
      Company E, Chillkoot Barracks, Haines, AK, 1938-??
      Attu Is. Invasion, 1943.
      ETO, “Jumping Charlie’s 29th”; (General Charles Gerhard),
      ( Number may be incorrect, as I’m relying on a 20+ year old memory
      for this. He said there were “3 Divisions: One in the field, one in the
      hospital, and one in the graveyard”.)
      Action in France and Germany, 1943-44
      Hospitalization and recovery in England. May have been in Wales.
      (Has anyone heard of a town in Wales that the service boys called
      “Slush”, because the name was so hard to pronounce? One of
      his stories was how the boys would go to the bus station and ask
      for a ticket to Slush, and the agent would sell the the ticket to the
      correct place.)

    • Francis (Butch) Colby,
      I’m glad your dad made it home. My dad was piloting landing craft on D-Day and had quite a few stories about it. One of the ones that got to him was the bigger landing craft passed him because he was going slower. It got in front of him and then hit a mine. My dad’s would have hit it if he hadn’t passed him. Good luck in your search.

    • You really need to request copies of his military records from St. Louis. They will include the units he served with and when. That information will help you narrow down what units to research in respect to their arrival dates in Europe and their movements throughout the Theater of Operations.

      The unit named on his discharge document may OR MAY NOT have been the unit he served with during the war. It is possible, even probable, it was a unit used to consolidate troops from other units selected to return home.

      If his military records are available, you can request Golden Arrow to research and obtain copies of his units “Morning Reports”, After Action Reports, etc to provide you will more detailed information about where his unit was on any given day, perhaps what they were doing, what the weather was like, who was on leave, etc.

  11. ETO IS EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS

  12. I had three uncles in WW2, with two of them being in the European Theater. My Uncle Harold Carlton Davis was stationed in Shipdham, England. He was a waist gunner on a B-24 Liberator. He flew more than 40 missions over France and Germany.
    His younger brother, Raymond Earl Davis, enlisted at 16, landed in Omaha Beach as a 17 year old kid, fought through Luxembourg, Belgium, the Battle of the Bulge, and all the way into Berlin.
    Our family is so thankful they both came home!

  13. My grandfather, William Edward Harris, served in the U S Navy in WWI. He was from Pueblo Colorado. Colorado records indicate he was a Cook First Class. He told me stories of serving on a ship that went to Russia at the end of WWI to assist the White Russian efforts to fight the Communists. He had a Russian pistol that he brought back from one his trips to Russia. Is it possible to find a record of the ship to which he was assigned as well as any other records of his naval service? Thanks

    • I really hate auto-spell-correct that can’t be turned off.

      1. In my reply above. My father was NOT discharged before the end of the “was”. That should have been “before the end of the war”.

      2. The gentleman I spoke wth who told me that all the records were backed up somewhere did not work at the VS. He worked at the VA.

      3. Last, the repeated “the” should have been “them the”.

      Sorry

  14. Seeking information and possible reunion with shipmates of Radioman 1st class Norman Wilbur Stunkard aboard the USS Kanowa . Norm died several years ago following heart surgery, but his son is trying to reconnect with others who might confirm his father’s stories.

  15. British bomber crews operated from 1939 until 1945.Their average age was 21 years old.They did a tour of duty(missions) of at least 30 and the death rate was 46%.In the UK,they are the unsung heroes of WW2.Over the years,I knew a handfull of them personally.They never bragged or boasted of their wartime experiences or even complained of them and at the time (50 years ago) I never realised how brave they had been.I now look back on them with total respect!

  16. Sandy, my dad spent a lot of time in NorthAfrica during WWII. He was in the Signal Corps and a Pigeoneer- he trained the birds to carry secret messages. Several birds had to be sent with each message as in Europe the people were shooting the pigeons down for food. The American and British armies were in North Africa also to capture Rommel. We heard plenty of those stories from my dad. Good luck in your search.

  17. Myolder brother went toEngland with the Billy Blackman crew 481st Bomb Squadron 100th Bomb Group. He was dropped from the crew when they reduced the crews to 9. The crew was shot down New Years Eve 44. He was on a ground crew, later requested and was on another air crew and few some missions. When I finally got him to talk he gave me little info. What crew did he get on with? Any info would help.

  18. I forgot to mention my brothers name, Byron Nelson. He died about 7 yeare ago.

  19. Charles Bramlet.
    The town called Slush could have been Silloth on the Solway Firth.
    Nearest large town is Carlisle.

  20. Sandy. Go to the local veteran administration office. They’ll help with paperwork. It takes 6 months, but they’ll send you any medals that were awarded.

  21. Thanks for posting their quest! It was most interesting and I hope others are encourages to do such wonderful sleuthing!

  22. My uncle Joseph Cullen from Philadelphia Pa. He was a corporal in the US Army Air Force. 878th bomber squad. He was shot down on 12-18-1944. His mother received a purple heart and a Air medal. He is listed at the Honolulu Memorial.

  23. Sandy could it be that your uncle was a part of the monuments men. They were soldiers who were assigned to find art of all kinds stolen by Hitler and his officers. I was just curious because you mentioned in one of your notes that he was trying to retrieve artifacts.

  24. Regarding Cecil Smith—I took a screen shot of my picture of the wall at the memorial. There are 12 Smiths listed but none with an initial of “C”. Three have only one initial listed. All others list two initials.

  25. What wonderful posts. Thank you for postings. Thank you for the help you are giving one another. I am so pleased to be able to read these altho I have no immediate need of the information it is wonderful to see.

  26. Lt. Wilson looks very much like the Wilson men in my paternal line, with distinct facial features. My Wilson line came from a huge family who came through the Tennessee/Kentucky settlers into Arkansas to Oklahoma. I will have to research if our lines are connected. Godspeed your search to bring his remains home.

  27. If your loved ones records were destroyed in the St. Louis archive fire, there are research groups who can find records at other places for a fee. I used Golden Arrow Research to find my father, Lewis Wilson McNutt’s Army Air Corp records. He was already a licensed pilot. He was a Flying Sergeant, but we didnt know what he flew. He entered a Jefferson Barracks, MO June 1942. Golden Arrow was able to pick up his trail in Dec of 1942. He volunteered for the Glider Division, which was in disarray. He was at Thousand Palms, CA then at Roswell NM. They found flight records, and his final financial and discharge papers. Between basic and Glider, they could find no records, but he likely went A track flight training, as a licensed pilot, in Georgia as his SSAN was given there. Fortunately for me, they discharged 61 men who volunteered for Glider from Roswell. I might not have been born 18 yrs later had the flown gliders.

    Regarding turret gunners, at the Pima Co. Air Museum in Tucson, seeing the bottom gunner turret is mindboggling. It is so small it looks like a child would barely fit. The docent said men of short height were chosen.

  28. To Hal Rushton:

    That poem you cited was written by Randall Jarrell, published in 1945.

  29. Great story.

    Glad to see the outreach to other air crew and next of kin. It’s a great way to grow the web and continue to honor the Greatest Generation.

    Don’t give up the quest. You will
    Find him. Even though many of the records were destroyed, there may be copies. I got my grandfather’s IDPF (much more detailed than the MACR) through NARA after a bit of back and forth. Also scored some fantastic aerial photos from them and some area maps from Library of Congress. #findingloren

  30. Sandy if you have his service number you can get his records from St. Louis. If you go to nearest county VA office they can help with the paperwork and information.

  31. I have some photos and an amazing map of Europe where my dad’s unit was – the soldiers marked all the places and added photos of some of the soldiers in his unit and gave it to my dad as a gift. I would LOVE to find a home for it in case others have relatives listed on it or they want to see where certain things were during the war. One photo of him and his buddy with artillery has written on the back “Louvres France Dec. ’44 Set. 5 2nd plat. B 776 and then the last names of the soldiers in the photo: Pillcons(?), Ryan, Heltke, Atherton, Nicolosi, Stone (my dad) Canatta or Lannata, Rybecki/Rybacki, Steele, Kochanski, Moffia, Socia, Erwin. I am happy to send scanned copies of the front and back of the photo if any of this means something to someone.

    • Irene, this is the perfect kind of document for a Fold3 Memorial. You can create a Memorial (or we can help you) and attach this map. When you list your father’s unit, it then becomes searchable and anyone in the future whose ancestor served in the same unit can search the unit and find your map.

  32. Sandy,

    If your father was interred in a national cemetery, the VA would have asked for a copy of his DD214 at the time they processed the request, right after he died. So it’s quite possible that the DD214 (or just possibly its equivalent discharge document if he was discharged when the form had a different name or number) may not be in papers that were put in storage long before his passing. Keep that in mind

  33. As the widow of a Korean War combat veteran whose records were burned in the St Louis fire–I was amazed to learn the source of the fire.. It seems that the Weather Underground was responsible for destroying all of those veterans service records. As you all know the leader and founder of the Weather Underground was none other than Bill Ayers–who was a good friend and groomer of Barack Hussein Obama. He was never prosecuted for the terrorism he created at that time.

  34. When requesting records from the center be sure to ask for any additional records available. Sometimes they will send only what has been asked for e.g. DD 214. So be sure to ask for any “additional records available”.

    My question is does anyone know if there is a list of any kind that identifies those members of the New Mexico National Guard that were in the Philippines on 7-8 December 1941. Due to the depression and recovery time many members of my family were in the Guard. Their Unit had been activated and sent to the PI’s earlier in 41. So many of them were listed as MIA due to the Death March and the Hell Ships. We have been unable to locate some members therefore can only assume they were killed and are unaccounted for.

  35. Another place to look for service records may be your county courthouse.
    In Tennessee, service members returning after WWII usually registered their discharge with the county court clerk. The into collected came from their DD214.
    I don’t know if this was a practice unique to the state of Tennessee, or it was done nationally, but it cannot hurt to check out the possibility that it may exist other places.
    Since so many Army records were destroyed in the St Louis fire, this might be a way to find at least one document that could help in uncovering clues to a relative’s WWII service.

    • Service members have traditionally registered their discharge papers with both the county court clerk and/or county veterans service offices. Many of the discharge papers are DD214, also previous discharge documents issued before World War II. There are veterans service offices in each county of every state.

  36. Army Air Corps, not Corp.

  37. This is such a wonderful article and to think of the lives that were saved eventually after the conclusion of the war, and how the crew members that were able to bail out hopefully had fulfilling lives. Even now as I write, the WWII veterans are now passing away at a very rapid rate. It made me think of our own family tragedy of one cousin of ours who made the ultimate sacrifice and was lost over the Med Ocean in his P-38 Lightning for the African & Italian campaign’s I pray with the help of the French people’s they are able to find and return the remains of Lt. Wilsom

    • The Reserve center moved to Anniston Alabama a few years ago. I worked there in St Louis and grew up there. Spent 8 years on active duty before going to the Reserve Center.

      DD214 is a crucial document and I even needed for applying for VA benefits and to join the service organizations. American Legion I belong to had even some fake veterans try to join them!

      If you can find an old living war buddy, they are worth their weight in Gold. All my uncles survived WW II marine corps and even the youngest did three tours in Nam! They all had bad PTSD. My grandfather served and his older brother were both marines, with the youngest brother in the Navy.

      I got out after Desert Storm and I have one cousin still on active duty in DC as a COL in the Guard waiting for that first Star.

  38. What is the address for Golden Arrow Research and NARA?

  39. That is always a good place to look for copies of DD214. Even as late as 1989 upon my discharge I was required to present a copy of my DD214 to the local courthouse.

    • Service members have traditionally registered their discharge papers with both the county court clerk and/or county veterans service offices. Many of the discharge papers are DD214, as well as previous discharge documents issued before World War II. There are veterans service offices in each county of every state.

  40. Also check out the National Museum of The Mighty Eighth 8th Air Force in Pooler, Georgia near Savanah. They were very helpful when I visited there last summer.
    They have a research center available by appointment.

  41. Anonymous
    February 23, 2020 at 5:46 pm
    Why did he fly 45 missions? I thought you only had to fly 25.

    Initially, bomber crews only had to fly 25 combat missions. As the air war continued, losses began to affect the number of available crews so the USAAF raised the bar to 30 missions circa early 1944. Later in the year the number rose to 35 missions.
    However, if you wanted to volunteer to fly more missions – – the brass was more then willing to let you fly as many as you wanted. Considering your chances – foolhardy.

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