Citizen Helps Family Of Fallen WWII Soldier Find Their Forgotten Grave.
Even if a soldier does not make it back from the war, it's important for the family to know their final resting place.
This man was contacted by a family member of a fallen WWII soldier who's grave had been lost, and what he did next was incredible.
This is John Daken. John's sister asked me via her daughter (his niece) to find her brother, lost long ago in Europe in WW-II.
His sister was in her 80's. All she knew was that a soldier came by when she was a teen, and told her parents that her brother had died somewhere in Europe in WW-II as he got out of a tank.
An online friend and I didn't have much luck, either. After a few weeks all we could find online was her daughters attempts to locate him. So I asked her in if there was any clues she could get from her mom.
A few days later, she went through her old boxes again. Inside an old, faded folder was this faded picture of John. And this faded photo of an old grave! It was all alone, the only cross in this row.
A bit of Photoshop and there was his number!
After that, it was easy.
Story continued onto the next page!
I was even able to find the very spot he died on a map from the 32 Armor Group. Look in the green circle and follow the green arrows. That A-X-3 symbol is his Command Company A. The Circle is for Armor, the X at the top means Command Company, and the A is Combat Command "A" , and the 3 is Johns 3rd Armor Group.
Basic Military Map symbols: http://www.history.army.mil/books/wwii/11-4/symbols.htm
That spot at the right, on August 6, 1944, John's unit was told to stand down to rest.
But Hitler had other plans. He ordered General von Kluge to start Operation Lttich. and drive the Americans into the sea. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/...
John died that night, in the opening moments of this major battle, on the other side of the hill where this picture was taken. He was just a few kilometers from this spot, where the "Lost Battalion" held out for a week against overwhelming odds against General von Kruges's XLVII Panzer Corps, with 2nd SS, and the 116th Panzer Divisions and the 1st SS Panzer Division.
But the fighting did not end there. His division went on to stop the Germans, surrounded them, and destroyed an entire German Army in the the next ten days. And Paris was liberated in 15 days. Johns unit fought in many other battles in the few months he was overseas.
My search ended at the Brittany American cemetery in France Where John lies is individually decorated with American Flags every Memorial Day.
I emailed the cemetery late that Friday night, told them what I had found, and promptly received two photos of John's grave Saturday morning from Mr. Jeffrey Aarnio, the Superintendent at the Brittany American Cemetery. This was far faster than the web sites promise of a 5 day reply and the very different time zones. They must have gone out in the first light on Saturday.
I wrote this up in a hurry, and emailed it and the photos to his niece. She sat down with John's sister, (her mom), told her were he was and managed to get a bit of his story out before they both broke down in tears.
The only thing they wanted to know was why was his grave the only one in gold?
I replied to Mr. Aarnio to thank him and his staff for the very quick reply and the photos. I mentioned that his niece and sister had been surprised by the gold lettering that is so obviously not faded, and that is only on his grave. Why was that?
Mr. Aarnio replied: "The gold you see in the photos is actually sand from Omaha Beach that we moisten with water so that it stays in the engraving and we brush off the excess with a cloth. The following rain will wash it out without staining the marble headstone and contrasts very nicely with the whiteness of the stone. I'm glad we can do our small part to honor their memories.".
That's solid gold to me.
When you're a kid most adults will tell you one thing or another is "cool" and "fun." Odds are you're too young to form any kind of opinion on the matter one way or another. You're a kid, right? You don't know what you're eating for breakfast. However, when you get older and form that larger worldview, you realize that yeah, maybe that one time when you were a kid actually wasn't fun.
These are those stories.