Wednesday, May 18, 2011

A WWI Aviator Vet

4697127117_23087a3590Ok, for my first search I am going to cover looking for my Wife’s Great Uncle, 2nd Lt William V. Capen. I’m not really looking for him because I do know where he is. He is buried at St. Mihiel American cemetery in France, which is a U.S. military cemetery cared for by the American Battle Monuments Commission. He is buried there because he was killed in an aviation accident on 3 November 1918 while serving in the 3rd Aviation Instructor Center at Issuodun, France. That is about all I have to go on.
We have found him in the New Jersey census for 1900 and 1910 and this tells us that he was born in Aug 1895 but, of course, no exact date. My first quest was to try and find his exact date of birth. Wrote to the New Jersey vital records and they found no record of a birth for him. Hmm! But, I can expect maybe it wasn’t registered or something else, the search will go on.
With all of the information on now, I’ve done a search for him there as well. Found that his mother is listed as being part of the WWI Mother’s Pilgrimage, which was a program to offer travel of the mother’s and/or widows to the graves of their loved ones in Europe. Not sure if she made the trip though.
Second task is to fight out any information on the accident that killed him. This really interests me since I am a want-to-be military historian. A quick google search brought me to and they had him listed on their site. Emailed them to see what they had and waited in great anticipation for a detailed account of the accident. A couple days later I got an email with a capen_accident_letterone-page cover letter which looks to have included the accident report at one time. uggh!  However, that is more than we had to go on before so I will try and analyze that letter and try and read all the handwriting throughout the margins to find any clues.
That is where I stand now and will update as I run into more walls or make any breakthroughs on our WWI hero, 2nd Lt. William V. Capen.
Any suggestions would be much appreciated in the comments.
Until next time and keep diggin’ for your family,
Photo by: Tony Hisgett
P.S. I figured out how to get the photo for this blog by following the advice of Kerry over at the Clue Wagon.

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