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The Stories Behind the Stars: Uncovering Personal Stories of the WWII Fallen

During the post-WWII era, many young boys entertained themselves playing army games. Ten-year-old Don Milne was more interested in learning about real soldiers. He devoured books about Patton, Churchill, McArthur, and Eisenhower. He particularly loved learning about ordinary Americans who served their country in extraordinary ways. Often called the Greatest Generation, Don was touched by heroic stories of the WWII fallen.

Don Milne

Don grew up and embarked on a 37-year career in the banking industry, but his love of military history continued. In 2016, he started a blog, and each day on his lunch break, he researched and wrote the story of a fallen WWII soldier. Before long, he had accumulated 1,300 stories and 1.5 million views on his blog! It seems that Don’s efforts struck a chord with others.

In 2019, Don lost his longtime job at the bank. He decided to take a leap of faith and focus full-time on research and writing. The Stories Behind the Stars (SBTS) was born. When a WWII soldier died, their family received a Gold Star Service Flag. More than 400,000 US service members died during the war, and Don wants each one remembered. To do that, he needs our help!

Today more than 700 volunteers from 49 states and 12 other countries are helping to document these stories. SBTS provides free training for anyone willing to participate. Their goal is to document every soldier lost in WWII before 2025 (the 80th anniversary of the end of the war). In about the time it takes to watch a movie, you can research and write the story of one of WWII’s fallen. Fold3 has teamed up with SBTS and will host these stories on our Fold3 Memorials, where they are preserved and available to view free of charge. Records from Fold3, Ancestry®, and™ can all be attached to provide rich detail and add to the narrative. Here is an example of a completed Memorial.

One volunteer described his involvement in SBTS as “interesting and rewarding.” John Schlatter has written more than 100 stories and says that his respect for these soldiers and their families has grown immeasurably. Although John has a background in writing, he stressed that anyone can participate. “Anyone can tell a story,” he said. “It doesn’t have to be perfect. Even if you make a mistake, the families of these soldiers are just grateful that someone has remembered them.” John recalled connecting with a woman whose father died a week before she was born. Never having known her dad, she expressed gratitude for John’s efforts in remembering him.  “Thank you,” she said, “for this gift to our family.”

In addition to preserving each soldier’s story, SBTS has big plans for the future. Don envisions a day where visitors to war memorials or cemeteries can use a smartphone app SBTS is developing. The app would allow you to scan the name on a headstone and get an immediate link to that soldier’s story. He has several volunteers helping with open-source app development and database management but would welcome more help.

Would you like to get involved? Visit to learn more. See more Memorials honoring WWII fallen soldiers on Fold3 today.


  1. Dear Don:
    You may be the answer to my prayers. I became aware of a Calvary soldier’s grave in New Mexico that was abandoned in a field and in need of repair. I have contacted several entities in hopes of finding information about him and some one willing to help in repair efforts.
    Would you be able to give me any advice in this matter?
    June Ferguson
    1011 S. Globe
    Portales, NM 88130
    [email protected]

  2. Mike says:

    My Uncle was in the same outfit as Audie Murphy.
    Read Audies recommendation for the MOH.
    Then you can go to facebook and read the
    letter I have posted that Lt. Harwell sent to
    my Grandparents on facebook: Forgotten Hero
    Sgt. Braxton Pool.

    • Dot Lunsford Harwell says:

      Audie Murphy is a distance relative of mine, his Mother’s maiden name was Lunsford!! We are from the same lineage but haven’t figured out how close!! I married a Harwell from Georgia, My Family history is so fascinating to find!! God bless you Sir, for all your work!!!

  3. Lois says:

    When nurse’s records, at least from WW I and WW II are available on Fols 3, I will subscribe.


    Hi Don,

    I like interest in the fallen unknown heroes of WWII. My uncle Edward Linn Boggs died in the battle of Luzon. I’ve tried to research his Army service, but apparently there was a fire where his records were kept and there is no record of his service. I was wondering is any of your subjects in your stories ever mentioned him in their stories.

    I was able to find a life insurance policy of his that said he died of wounds. Do you think you could mention him in you blog to see if anyone has heard of him? He was from Hamilton Ohio. He was in the liberation of Manila in the Philippines. He died March 5, 1945.

    I also have a news paper photo of him if you need it.

    Thank you for any help you can provide.

    Stephen Ebbing

    • Janice Niccolai says:

      Hi Stephen,
      I have been faced with the same problem since my mother threw away my father’s discharge papers, his dog tags and pictures. On top of that, his military records burned in a fire where military records were stored. So there are no records of him although there are men with the same name. He did not die in WWII but some years later. There isn’t even a birth certificate for him because that burned in Denver county courthouse. Sometimes I wonder if he existed.
      Janice Niccolai

    • Jason Lester says:

      Your uncle is listed on 2 websites that say he died of wounds. One of them is and the other is HonorStates lists his service number as 35801185. They seem like a great site that would like more info on him and a picture to upload. They didn’t specifically list the battle of Luzon, but I know he was there based on his headstone information and info on Edward was a member of the 8th Engineering Combat Squadron. His rank was Private. I strongly believe he also fought at Leyte among other battles. tells where his squadron fought and trained (among other info). He is listed in their book of honor. Type in 8th Engineer Squadron in World War 2 and should be near the top of the list. He is buried at Greenwood Cemetery in Hamilton,Butler,Ohio and his marker can be found at hope this helps.

    • Al Schutte says:


      Email me at [email protected]

      I can help with Edward Boggs

    • Hans Feickert says:

      Regarding the link to the 1st Cavalry Division Association website:
      The address was incorrectly given by Lester on 1-22-2021 as:
      The correct address is:

    • Sarah Ridder says:

      I found his Enlistment card with his mother as his next of kin. He signed up while still in High School. is a fabulous place to find information. My father Served in the Army (forged his date of birth to 1924) then his mother made the Corporal send him back. He entered the Navy as a Radar Detector which included the Victory Medal of Asian-Pacific Conflict.
      My dad died when I was nine so I never found out any of this until I started researching my heritage over 15 years ago. My mom never spoke of our dad as she had 9 kids to raise 1 -15 yrs at the time.

      I am still trying to find his records as they were burned in the same St. Louis fire. I am thankful for the information posted later on by Kathy Le Comte 🙂

      I will keep looking and hoping the link works so I can add more for you!

      Sarah Grosvenor-Ridder

    • S Brook says:

      Thanks to all who have served our great country. Online searches revealed the following for an Edward L Boggs.
      This may be your Edward Linn Boggs. May he RIP.

      The Dayton Herald (Dayton, Ohio)07 Apr 1945, Sat Page 2
      “Also reported wounded were Pvt Edward L Boggs 985 Shuler, Ave, Pfc Albert E Link, R R 8, and Pvt Luther Turner, 801 Hayes Ave., all of Hamilton”
      Note: There were also others in the article including: “Sgt Daniel R Boggs, 309 Harrison St, Piqua”

  5. Chris Stout says:

    I researched over 160 20th century military service casualties from the Ridgewood, NJ area and wrote a biography on each, how they lived and died. An article on one of them a week ran (and ran a second time) in the Ridgewood News about 15 years ago. The entire series was collected in a book entitled “At Death He Was 25 Years Old”, reflecting the average age of the 160 men and two women. Most of the biographies can be found on “Find a Grave”.

  6. Sandra Sager says:

    I have been doing this for the WWII veterans in my family, but had not thought to post the stories on Fold3.

  7. Kathy Le Comte says:

    For those above, and subsequent posters here, who have run into the problem of military service records being burned at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis, all is not lost. Make another request but specifically ask for a RECONSTRUCTION of the file. NPRC then will seek records held at other departments. I know of many people who have received records after requesting a reconstructed file. There are other records available to you also. Request a VA Claim file from the Department of Veterans Affairs. Research unit histories and associations which also have records. Research newspapers. Articles of your serviceman might mention his training, unit, rank, overseas service location, and if KIA, the circumstances behind his death. If this all seems overwhelming hire a professional military researcher. There ARE records if you know where to look and what to ask for.

    • Janice Niccolai says:

      Thank you Kathy. I’ll try that route but I’m not even sure where the records were when they burned.

  8. Amy springer says:

    My grandfather was part of the 101st airborne during WWII. His name is William Rosz also known as Bill to many. One article I have from an old newspaper during the war is about how my grandpa would catch the grenades thrown by the German and throw them back at them.

  9. E. Kocar says:

    Don: My father in law served in the Navy- he had been at Pearl Harbor. 3 days prior to the bombing of Pearl Harbor his ship has left port. I also had an uncle who served in the Marines. He never spoke about it when I was around. My mother told me of how the serviceman asked for toiletries. I later found out that he had been discharged from the service because he was still in High School, this I found on Ancestry. I have other relatives who also service during this period of time. Unfortunately either I never heard their stories or they never spoke of their experiences when I was around. Maybe something young children should not know about: (protecting us from what now that we learned only a very small part when we were in grade school through High School. Only now as an senior citizen I am curious to find how more about what they did etc in the service. It seems like a dead end for my relative, on a limited budget.

  10. Jocelyn Young says:

    My uncle served in a ship during WWII, Germans sank the ship; he was boatswains mate; his name is Hames Henry Young. I gave last letter he wrote to my grandfather. James states the ship will be leaving he knows not where, also people were hungry, were eating dogs and horses.

  11. Jocelyn Young says:

    His Name is James, Hames. Autocorrected. Sorry

    • Janet Brock says:

      There is a website called It has excellent records including names of ships torpedoes by the Germans. My uncle’s merchant marine ship was torpedoed on November 11, 1941 in the North Atlantic. I was able to find out that information from this site. Before that, we only knew the date his ship was declared missing which was around November 20, so it was nice to know exactly when, date and time it was torpedoed and by which uboat and commander and to find out what happened to the uboat and its commander later.

  12. Mary Lloyd says:

    My father , 1909 to 1985, Dr. James Harvey Litton joined the Army as soon as he was of age. The Army helped him through college and medical school. Then when WWII started he was called into active duty. After a few months at Camp Blandon in Florida, he was sent to Paris. ( He told me he was under Charles De Gaulle and I was later told that they was not something that was done. Perhaps that is what caused him to be sent to be under Patton) He was there until he was sent to London and readied for the landing in Normandy. He was part of the Battle of the Bulge having been assigned to Gen. Patton. as he worked his way across France and Normandy, he ended up in Germany . This is where this story occurred. The German planes were dropping “bombs” and he felt that they would not stop until the town was destroyed. So he gathered all of the orphans there in an orphanage and marched them up to a monastery. He figured the German soldiers knew the place and that they did not allow the public inside. So at gunpoint he orders the monk who opened the door to accept the children. He then saw them into the protection of the monastery. He made it back home when the war ended. There he served the local Veterans Hospitals for a couple of years

  13. Greg Williams says:

    You can find several Army stories in my recent book, “The U.S. Navy at Normandy” from McFarland.

  14. OJ says:

    So glad Fold 3 sent me the link to this blog. My father, Merle Eugene Sutton Jr. served in the US Navy during WW11. Dad was a mere 16 years of age when he enlisted. One year and 3 weeks after enlisting he was assigned to one of the most hazardous commissions in the Navy; He was to serve on the USS JOBB DE 707 a Destroyer being staged in the Pacific Theater. I was able to obtained many of the ships daily logs from Fold 3 and together with a shoe box full of letters he wrote home to his family I was able to obtain a grasp what he and his many of his fellow shipmates experienced during the war.

  15. Hans Feickert says:

    Regarding the link to the 1st Cavalry Division Association website:
    The address was incorrectly given above by Lester on 1-22-2021 as:
    The correct address is:

  16. How do we submit a blog to Fold3. I would like to submit one on the men and later women from the Muwekma Ohlone Indian Tribe of the San Francisco Bay Area who served in the U.S. Armed Forces during WWI (Army, Navy and Marine Corps), WWII (Europe an and Pacific Theaters), Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and who are still serving today. Several of them are buried at the Golden Gate National Cemetery, Riverside and other National Cemeteries.

  17. Priscilla Clark Jackson says:

    My father along with many other men were POWs . They were captured by Japanese and held prisoners for 42 months. They were called “WW II Lost Battalion “. Not much is mentioned about them . Can you imagine what they went thru ?

    • Jo Wall says:

      I had a cousin who was in the Lost Battalion. He published a book about what they went through. It is rather dry reading but lots of facts. there were a number of men from Jacksboro, Texas who were in the Lost Battalion. You might find information by contacting the public library in Jacksboro.

  18. Chet Ogan says:

    During World War II my father, Reginald Ogan (serial number 39537103, SSN 569032579) was inducted into the US Army on 28 Sep 1942 at Ft. McArthur, San Pedro, CA, in the warrant officer branch, and did basic training under Drill Instructor James (actor Jimmy) Durante. His Army records were destroyed in a fire, however at his home I found his discharge records which had a fair amount of information. A veteran myself, I talked to him a little bit but I did not ask enough questions. He spent the winter 1942-43 at Camp White, Oregon where it “was always cold and rainy” where he first got symptoms associated with rheumatoid arthritis. [How different are symptoms of rheumatoid arthritis and Lyme disease?]
    Transferred to US Air Force/Army Air Corp January 1943; received rank of PFC on 14 Mar 1943. At Santa Ana Army Air Base (SAAAB) took additional training in charts and mapping and received rank of PFC. He was promoted to rank of corporal on 7 Jul 1943 in Squadron 133 as a Technician Instructor (659), where he helped develop a training manual for bomber navigators. As an Air Force Pre-flight instructor he taught English to a Nationalist Chinese Training Detachments from 1943-45. He was then assigned to Douglas Army Airbase, Arizona, (Feb- March 1944) and Los Alamos, New Mexico, in the spring of 1944 giving navigation training to flight crews.
    Corporal Ogan was transferred to SAAAB convalescent hospital with chronic rheumatoid arthritis, then reassigned to the 1040th Army Air Corps Personnel Distribution Command, Gen. Arthur E. Easterbrook in command, where he reclassified Air Force personnel based on their abilities as pilots, bombardiers, navigators, ground crew, and radio operators, and was honorably discharged at Santa Ana Air Base, CA, 16 Mar 1945, serving 2 years, 5 1/2 months, under Certificate of Disability Discharge. Following his service he continued to be bothered by rheumatoid arthritis about which he followed up with a series of letters to the VA. His death certificate at age 73 (my age now) listed rheumatoid arthritis as contributing to his death by polycythemia vera, related to autoimmune causes.
    We lived in Needles, California, where he taught 4th to 8th grade in a two-room school, many children of fathers who worked maintaining Santa Fe tracks between Essex and Kingman. I recall his conversations among his friends who had served in WWII about the “code-talkers.” This was long before this information was formally declassified.

  19. Pam Walsh says:

    My father and both uncles served in WWII, though I only have documented records of my Uncle Vance being a POW for 3 years during the war. I have a few of the newspaper clippings passed along to me by my dad from the Des Moines Register newspaper back in 1943 and Uncle Vance’s notification announcement from General Douglas MacArthur’s HQ in Australia telling my grandmother and grandfather that he was a POW. I have just started to put a lot of the family history together, but would be happy to share it for your memorial.

  20. Ronald Adkins says:

    I am looking for any info I can get on Booker D. Adkins he was from Va. and went to Camp Lee. He was then assigned to the 633rd ordnance ammo Company. I was lucky and received his personal discharge papers but a lot of things were marked through. He was in all 5 campaigns in Europe and his ASR Score was 81. His induction was 27 Jan 43 and Honorable Discharged 4 Nov 1945. Army serial no. 33539693. The 633rd ord.ammo co. shows only being in 4 campaigns and occupied Germany. As I said earlier I received his personal discharge papers but there is a lot marked out and they don’t seam to match others. I have looked on fold3 for 6 years, some news papers, court house, many books and other web sites. If any one has info or and idea how to find more info please contact me. I will thank you in advance, Ronnie Adkins

  21. On my web site – “G.I. Memories” – I placed a category for documentation of US military history. As a retired G.I. I thought it important to connect veterans. Would you like me to put a link to your blog? No obligation for anything.

  22. My father was killed at Iwo Jima on February 19, 1945. What process do I need to follow to find him on your blog or website…. I have all of his papers and medals, I think..

  23. Greg Nyce says:

    My great uncle was killed on match 6 1945 in Germany, my brother rand I have been doing research on him for years along with our aunt. His sacrifice is the reason my brother and myself both have served in the military.

  24. Shirley says:

    Oh, I would dearly love to, but the only WWII vet I knew of in my family was a maternal uncle with a wooden leg (a non combat injury by a tankdriver). He lived a good, decent, respectable life. Raised 2 fine children. & everybody prefers to think of him that way & nobody talks about his accident. I will have to decline the invitation for now (unless ancestry & I happen to dig up another realative who served) out of respect for my beloved uncle.

  25. Emma June Luttrell says:

    My father Claude Berlin Branscum, Sargent in the Army-Air-Corp, had been training his soldiers to invade Japan in WWII. He got the mumps and missed his posting as he was hospitalized for the mumps. All of his men were on the ship which was headed for Japan. I do not remember the name of the ship, however, it was sunk by torpedos. Most of his men died in the shark-infested waters while they waited for rescue. I met another older man who was also on that ship. He described the terror as the sharks came in waves, killing and eating soldiers in the water. I am grateful my dad got the mumps. It saved his life. He was hospitalized at Jefferson Baracks in St. Louis, MO. I have a photograph of him, getting off the train when he rejoined my mother. He had the biggest smile on his face. Glad to be alive. Glad to be home on leave. Until the day my dad died, he remembered his men and would grow silent. He was glad to be alive, but these were HIS MEN who died. He later worked in the Record Center in St. Louis and had access to records of his unit. He was able to find out who lived and who died that day. It was a hard day when my daddy came home that night, to share with Mom all the names of his friends who did not make it.

  26. Donald Lindstedt says:

    I have a diary that my Dad left that includes his enlistment in WWII, training, deployment, B 17 crash behind lines in Yugoslavia, and his time in 2 German camps from June, 1944 to his liberation in 1945. I also have documents that verify 342 days as a POW. Is there something I can do/provide within this format to memorialize his experiences?

    • Jenny Ashcraft says:

      That sounds like a treasure. You can digitize it and add it to his Memorial. If it is large, we can digitize it for you and add it to our User Contributed Collection. If you would like us to do that, please contact us at [email protected].

  27. We are a non profit high school alumni association trying to find military photos of our graduates who were killed in the line of duty with many being in WWII. Do you have individual photos of those killed in action on your website that might help us in locating their photos for a memorial display in our high school? Any suggestions you can offer would be extremely helpful.

    Thank You

    • Jenny Ashcraft says:

      I would recommend searching our honor wall. There are millions of Memorials for WWII soldiers and many of them include a photograph.

  28. raymond fink says:

    my comment is to ask what do you make of the people who attacked our Capital, so many were military experienced ???? Do they
    understand Democracy and the government they were to defend ???? It is not difficult to understand….. But easy to be lead by
    the macho big mouth rabble who are afraid to stop and think about what they are doing……I served in the Army Security Agency
    and a finer group of men did not exist in the Army, and they would not have supported these ‘big mouth’ rabble rousers.
    They were not the Army I knew……They knew democracy allows other opinions…… Its Communism and Fascism that do not allow
    for thinking and other opinions. Open your eyes and ears before your mouth.