I began my family history journey back in 1999 when I was assigned to Germany with the US Air Force. I always heard that my grandfather was killed in WWII and buried in Germany but no one knew where, not even my mother – his daughter. So, the search began. One of the first resources that I came across was the American Battle Monuments Commission. I never heard of it before but what a great organization established by our government. You can read all about them on their website but they are charged with caring for and maintaining our overseas cemetery’s and memorials.
On their website is a search page in which you can search all their records and find the exact location of any of our American heroes who are buried in one of their cemeteries. That is exactly what I did and found my grandfather buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery, plot O Row 6 Grave 12. I also found out that he was a Private First Class, his service number, and the unit he belonged to when he was killed, plus his date of death. One resource and I uncovered all this information that proved vital in my continued success in locating my grandfathers story. I can thank the American Battle Monuments Commission for that.
I visited the cemetery many times while I’ve been in Germany and was able to take my mother to see her dad’s final resting place two separate times. The last time was last May for Memorial Day. My mom passed away this past January and I am very thankful that we were able to get her to see her father’s resting place and give her some closure on his death. The staff at the Netherlands American Cemetery is very professional and have always been a great help during my visits. But, more importantly to me, they are very proud to be serving the heroes laid to rest in their cemetery. The staff of this cemetery are not Americans but citizens of the Netherlands.
From the information I got from the American Battle Monuments Commission I have been able to locate records on my grandfathers unit and visit sites in France and Germany where he fought. However, the greatest find coming from this information was the investigation report that describes how my grandfather was killed. That brought total closure and eliminated rumors that my mother had heard about his death.
The American Battle Monuments Commission is not only a great government agency but also a great resource for those that may have family buried in one of our overseas cemetery’s.
Thanks for reading and keep diggin’ up your family.
P.S. My post for this Monday will be a short bio on my grandfather, so check back.