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Airmen of the Buslee and Brodie Crews of the 384th Bomb Group

I have been writing about the men of the 384th Bomb Group of the 8th Army Air Forces in WWII for many years, particularly those airmen who served on the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron. The 384th was a B-17 heavy bomber group based in Grafton Underwood, England during the war.

My connection with these two crews is my father, George Edwin Farrar, who was a waist gunner on the Buslee crew.

Both the Buslee and Brodie crew departed the states from their final combat crew training in Ardmore, Oklahoma at the same time. Both crews were assigned to the 384th Bomb Group within days of each other.

On 28 September 1944, the Buslee and Brodie crews participated in the 384th’s Mission 201 (which was the 8th Air Force’s numbered Mission 652).

On the mission, coming off the bomb run on the target, the B-17 42-31222, Lazy Daisy, piloted by James Joseph Brodie, collided with the unnamed B-17 43-37822 piloted by John Oliver Buslee with my father manning the machine guns in the waist.

All aboard Buslee’s aircraft were killed in the collision, ensuing explosion, and crash except for my father, the sole survivor of his fortress. Eight of my father’s bomber brothers perished on this one B-17 on this one day.

Three men survived aboard Brodie’s aircraft, and the remaining six perished, a total of fourteen killed in the collision of the two aircraft.

I have been researching the lives of these airmen for many years and am about to embark on another search for new information on each, so I thought it was time to recap what I have already learned and share links of what I have previously written about them.

Keep in mind, there are more than eighteen men (the number of airmen that made up the two crews on 28 September 1944) involved in this story. Each crew was originally made up of ten men, although neither crew ever flew missions with all ten aboard. All of their missions were flown with a crew of nine containing only one waist gunner instead of two, a change from earlier in the war.

And neither crew flew as all original members on every mission. Substitutes were more common on missions for the Buslee crew, but both crews flew with substitute airmen on the fatal mission of 28 September 1944. My histories of the men of the Buslee and Brodie crews include both original members and those who were substituting for them on that final mission.

Including original crew members and substitute crew members on 28 September 1944 for both crews, plus two key witnesses to the collision, the number of airmen whose family history I research is twenty-nine, thirty including Lloyd Vevle’s twin brother, Floyd.

In the list below, I’m listing all of the airmen by position in the B-17 and noting who were original crew members, who were crew substitutions, and who were key witnesses to the mid-air collision. I’m also including very brief biographical information (birth, death, and burial data), links to each airman’s personnel record on the 384th Bomb Group’s website, and links to histories I’ve previously written about them.

This post will also be available as a permanent page which will be updated with additional links to posts of any new findings from my research.


The Pilots

John Oliver Buslee, pilot of the 544th Bomb Squadron

James Joseph Brodie, pilot of the 545th Bomb Squadron

  • Born 14 November 1917
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 26
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • James Joseph Brodie

The Co-pilots

David Franklin Albrecht, assigned Buslee crew co-pilot

  • Born 1 March 1922
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 22
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot C, Row 2, Grave 11
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • David Franklin Albrecht

Lloyd Oliver Vevle, assigned Brodie crew co-pilot

  • Born 9 December 1922
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 21
  • Buried Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial, Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium, Plot C, Row 37, Grave 20
  • Lloyd’s twin brother Floyd Martin Vevle (Born 9 December 1922 – Died 14 January 1945, age 22) of the 390th Bomb Group is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at  the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium.
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Lloyd Oliver Vevle
  • Floyd Martin Vevle
  • The Vevle Twins

The Navigators

Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, assigned Buslee crew navigator

William Alvin Henson II, Sammons crew navigator, but navigator of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., assigned Brodie crew navigator

The Bombardiers

Marvin Fryden, assigned Buslee crew bombardier

James Buford Davis, Jung crew bombardier & Buslee crew replacement bombardier after Fryden’s death

Robert Sumner Stearns, Durdin crew bombardier, but bombardier of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

  • Born 25 August 1923
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 21
  • Buried Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA, Section B, Site 302
  • Memorial marker at Family/Home Cemetery at Juniper Haven Cemetery, Prineville, Crook County, Oregon, USA
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Robert Sumner Stearns

William Douglas Barnes, Jr., assigned Brodie crew bombardier

Byron Leverne Atkins, Chadwick crew flexible (waist) gunner, but togglier of the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944

The Radio Operators/Gunners

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, assigned Buslee crew radio operator

William Edson Taylor, assigned Brodie crew radio operator

Donald William Dooley, Headquarters, but radio operator of the Brodie crew on 28 September 1944

The Engineers/Top Turret Gunners

Clarence Burdell Seeley, assigned Buslee crew engineer

Robert Doyle Crumpton, assigned Brodie crew engineer

  • Born 26 July 1920
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 24
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Robert Doyle Crumpton

The Ball Turret Gunners

Erwin Vernon Foster, assigned Buslee crew ball turret gunner

George Francis McMann, Jr., Gilbert crew ball turret gunner, but ball turret gunner of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

  • Born 26 September 1924
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 20, two days past his 20th birthday
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands, Plot N, Row 22, Grave 4
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • George Francis McMann, Jr.

Gordon Eugene Hetu, assigned Brodie crew ball turret gunner

  • Born 26 September 1925
  • Died 28 September 1944, age 19, two days past his 19th birthday
  • Buried Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Novi, Oakland County, Michigan, USA
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Gordon Eugene Hetu

The Tail Gunners

Eugene Daniel Lucynski, assigned Buslee crew tail gunner

  • Born 22 December 1919
  • Died 14 April 1981, age 61
  • Burial information unknown, but parents (Gustave and Dominica Lucynski) are buried All Saints Church Cemetery, Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, USA
  • Also known as Eugene D. or Dan Lucyn
  • 384th BG Personnel Record
  • Eugene D. Lucynski

Gerald Lee Andersen, Carnes crew tail gunner, but tail gunner of the Buslee crew on 28 September 1944

Wilfred Frank Miller, assigned Brodie crew tail gunner

The Flexible (Waist) Gunners

Lenard Leroy Bryant, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner, reassigned to top turret gunner after 5 August 1944 mission

George Edwin Farrar, assigned Buslee crew waist gunner

Leonard Wood Opie, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Harry Allen Liniger, assigned Brodie crew waist gunner

Witnesses to the 28 September 1944 Mid-air Collision

Wallace Arnold Storey, Gross crew co-pilot

Robert McKinley Mitchell, Jr., Allred crew ball turret gunner

Thank you to Fred Preller, webmaster of 384thBombGroup.com, and his volunteer researchers for providing and sharing information of the Group.

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

Buslee and Brodie Crew Burial Locations

I’m continuing my look at the options given to Next-of-kin of WWII service members killed in action during the war. After learning about those choices, I decided to take a closer look at the original members of the John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron, and included those airmen who were substituting for original crew members on the 28 September 1944 mission when the two crews were involved in a mid-air collision of their B-17’s leaving the target at Magdeburg, Germany.

For those service members killed in action during the war, if they were killed aboard their bomber, but their bomber made it back to England, they were likely initially buried at the Cambridge American Cemetery. Unless their Next-of-kin repatriated them back to the U.S., they most likely remain at Cambridge.

For those service members who were killed over enemy territory, and whose bodies did not make it back to England, they were likely initially buried in a foreign cemetery near where they died. For example, the men of the Buslee and Brodie crews who were killed in the mid-air collision over Magdeburg were initially buried in the cemetery at Ost Ingersleben, Germany near the crash sites of their B-17’s.

None of the original Buslee or Brodie crew members are still living. Following my list of the burial locations of those killed in action during WWII, I will list the burial locations of those who made it home and have died since. For those buried in American Military Cemeteries, both here and overseas, I am including Plot, Row, and Grave number.

Killed in Action, Buried in Europe

Buried in an American Military Cemetery Overseas

Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Cambridgeshire, England

Marvin Fryden, Buslee crew

  • Born 8 January 1921 – Died 5 August 1944
  • Buried Cambridge American Cemetery and Memorial, Coton, South Cambridgeshire District, Cambridgeshire, England
  • Plot E, Row 2, Grave 4

* * *

Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial, Liège, Belgium

Lloyd Oliver Vevle, Brodie crew

  • Born 9 December 1922 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial, Neuville-en-Condroz, Arrondissement de Liège, Liège, Belgium
  • Plot C, Row 37, Grave 20
  • Lloyd’s twin brother Floyd Martin Vevle (Born 9 December 1922 – Died 14 January 1945) of the 390th Bomb Group is memorialized on the Tablets of the Missing at  the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery in Henri-Chapelle, Belgium.

* * *

Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten

David Franklin Albrecht, Buslee crew

  • Born 1 March 1922 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot C, Row 2, Grave 11

Lenard Leroy Bryant, Buslee crew

  • Born 7 March 1919 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot G, Row 7, Grave 22

George Francis McMann, Jr., Gilbert crew member, but part of Buslee crew on September 28, 1944

  • Born 26 September 1924 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot N, Row 22, Grave 4

James Joseph Brodie

  • Born 14 November 1917 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4

Robert Doyle Crumpton, Brodie crew

  • Born 26 July 1920 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial, Margraten, Eijsden-Margraten Municipality, Limburg, Netherlands
  • Plot E, Row 19, Grave 22

* * *

Killed in Action, Repatriated

Buried in a National Cemetery in the U.S.

Gerald Lee Andersen, Carnes crew member, but part of Buslee crew on September 28, 1944

  • Born 20 June 1923 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Fort McPherson National Cemetery, Maxwell, Lincoln County, Nebraska, USA
  • Section F, Site 1229

Sebastiano Joseph Peluso, Buslee crew

  • Born 8 July 1924 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Long Island National Cemetery, East Farmingdale, Suffolk County, New York, USA
  • Plot J, 15423

Robert Sumner Stearns, Durdin crew member, but part of Buslee crew on September 28, 1944

  • Born 25 August 1923 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Golden Gate National Cemetery, San Bruno, San Mateo County, California, USA
  • Section B, Site 302
  • Memorial marker at Family/Home Cemetery at Juniper Haven Cemetery, Prineville, Crook County, Oregon, USA

* * *

Buried in a Family/Home Cemetery in the U.S.

John Oliver Buslee

  • Born 24 June 1923 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Saint Joseph Cemetery, River Grove, Cook County, Illinois, USA

William Alvin Henson II, Sammons crew member, but part of Buslee crew on September 28, 1944

  • Born 8 June 1923 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Eastview Cemetery, Conyers, Rockdale County, Georgia, USA

Byron Leverne Atkins, Chadwick crew member, but part of Brodie crew on September 28, 1944

  • Born 10 November 1924 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Oak Hill Cemetery, Lebanon, Boone County, Indiana, USA

Donald William Dooley, Headquarters, but part of Brodie crew on September 28, 1944

  • Born 26 July 1919 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Valhalla Memory Gardens, Bloomington, Monroe County, Indiana, USA

Gordon Eugene Hetu, Brodie crew

  • Born 26 September 1925 – Died 28 September 1944
  • Buried Oakland Hills Memorial Gardens Cemetery, Novi, Oakland County, Michigan, USA

For those crew members who survived the war and are buried here at home, I am listing them by date of death, earliest first.

Harry Allen Liniger, Brodie crew

  • Born 9 August 1924 – Died 8 October 1947
  • Buried Powells Point Christian Church Cemetery, Harbinger, Currituck County, North Carolina, USA

Chester Anthony Rybarczyk, Buslee crew

  • Born 18 January 1923 – Died 2 September 1967
  • Buried Calvary Cemetery, Toledo, Lucas County, Ohio, USA

Leonard Wood Opie, Brodie crew

  • Born 14 September 1921 – Died 20 May 1974
  • Buried Lakeview Memorial Gardens, Longview, Gregg County, Texas, USA

Clarence Burdell Seeley, Buslee crew

  • Born 12 December 1921 – Died 18 March 1980
  • Buried Kilfoil Cemetery, Merna, Custer County, Nebraska, USA

Eugene Daniel Lucynski, Buslee crew

  • Born 22 December 1919 – Died 14 April 1981
  • Burial information unknown, but parents (Gustave and Dominica Lucynski) are buried All Saints Church Cemetery, Flint, Genesee County, Michigan, USA
  • Also known as Eugene D. or Dan Lucyn

Erwin Vernon Foster, Buslee crew

  • Born 12 February 1920 – Died 30 June 1981
  • Buried Maple Grove Cemetery, Horseheads, Chemung County, New York, USA

George Edwin Farrar, Buslee crew

  • Born 3 September 1921 – Died 5 November 1982
  • Buried Floral Hills Memory Gardens, Tucker, DeKalb County, Georgia, USA

William Douglas Barnes, Jr., Brodie crew

  • Born 20 May 1919 – Died 6 December 1990
  • Buried Riverside Cemetery, Hastings, Barry County, Michigan, USA

Wilfred Frank Miller, Brodie crew

  • Born 15 February 1925 – Died 29 June 1991
  • Buried Saint Isidore Catholic Cemetery, Meeme, Manitowoc County, Wisconsin, USA

George Marshall Hawkins, Jr., Brodie crew

  • Born 26 November 1918 – Died 4 January 1998
  • Buried Florida Memorial Gardens, Rockledge, Brevard County, Florida, USA

William Edson Taylor, Brodie crew

  • Born 21 April 1923 – Died 29 January 2002
  • Cremated

James Buford Davis, Jung crew & Buslee crew Bombardier replacement

  • Born 5 October 1921 – Died 20 December 2009
  • Cremated, Greater South Side Crematory, Greenwood, Johnson County, Indiana, USA

May they all rest in peace.

Links

Website: American Battle Monuments Commission

Booklet: Disposition of World War II Armed Forces Dead

Previous Posts in this Series

American Cemetery Grave Adopters

American Military Overseas Burials

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

WWII Combat Chronology – 11 August 1944

I am continuing my series of articles based on the entries from Kit C. Carter and Robert Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces. Both combat chronologies are excellent sources of information regarding combat missions in World War II and I thank the authors for sharing them online.

These articles are concentrated on the operations of the 8th Army Air Forces on the missions on which the John Oliver Buslee crew and James Joseph Brodie crew of the 384th Bomb Group participated. The statistics of other dates and missions and of other branches of the American Air Forces and theaters of operation of World War II are available through the links provided in this article to these two sources for those interested.

Today’s installment is the 11 August 1944 mission in which the Buslee crew and Brodie crew participated.


WWII Combat Chronology – Friday, 11 August 1944

384th BG Mission 177/8th AF Mission 541 to Brest, France.

Target: Military and Tactical, Coastal Artillery Emplacements.

The John Oliver Buslee crew of the 544th Bomb Squadron and the James Joseph Brodie crew of the 545th Bomb Squadron participated in this mission.

Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 entry:

More than 850 HBs attack 13 M/Ys, fuel dumps, A/Fs, and T/Os, in NE France and Paris area, and 23 arsenal areas, barracks, concrete emplacements and heavy arty posts in and around Brest, escorted by 8 ftr gps and a sq. 5 gps later strafe ground tgts.

Jack McKillop’s USAAF Chronology: Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces entry:

EUROPEAN THEATER OF OPERATIONS (ETO)

STRATEGIC OPERATIONS (Eighth Air Force): 4 missions are flown:

  1. Mission 541, to attack marshalling yards, fuel dumps, airfields, and targets of opportunity in northeast France and the Paris area. The Buslee and Brodie crews participated in this mission.
  2. Mission 542, to attack arsenal areas, barracks, concrete emplacements and heavy artillery posts in and around Brest, France.
  3. Mission 543, a Micro H test against Le Chenaie rail bridge.
  4. Mission 544, to drop leaflets in France during the night.

Also, 28 of 31 B-24s fly CARPETBAGGER missions in France.

Mission 541: 660 bombers and 300+ fighters are dispatched to attack 13 marshalling yards, fuel dumps, airfields, and targets of opportunity, in NE France and the Paris area; 4 bombers are lost (numbers in parenthesis indicate number of bombers attacking the target):

  1. 157 B-17s are dispatched to attack Belfort (76) and Mulhouse (76) marshalling yards and 1 B-17 hit a target of opportunity; 16 B-17s are damaged.
  2. Of 141 B-24s, 47 hit Coulommiers Airfield, 36 hit Pacy-sur-Armancon and 34 hit St Florentin; 5 B-24s are damaged.
  3. 76 of 77 B-17s hit Villacoublay aircraft depot; 1 B-17 is lost and 17 damaged; 1 airman is WIA and 9 MIA.
  4. 45 of 65 B-24s dispatched hit Toussus le Noble Airfield; 9 others hit Orleans/Saran Airfield; 1 B-24 is damaged.
  5. Of 220 B-24s, 66 hit Strasbourg fuel dump; marshalling yards at Strasbourg (65) and Saarbrucken (60); Nivelles Airfield (10) and 1 hits a target of opportunity; 3 B-24s are lost and 112 damaged; 7 airman are KIA, 7 WIA and 19 MIA.

Missions 541 and 542 are escorted by 356 P-38s and P-51s; 1 P-51 is lost and 1 damaged beyond repair; 1 pilot is WIA and 1 MIA.

Links/Sources

Except for entries from Carter and Mueller’s U.S. Army Air Forces in World War II Combat Chronology 1941 – 1945 and McKillop’s Combat Chronology of the US Army Air Forces © Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

American Military Overseas Burials

Last week I introduced you to Teresa (Terry) Hirsch, WWII Genealogist. During her immersion into World War II history, Terry has taken two Battle of the Bulge tours (both in December to get a real feel for the December 16, 1944 to January 25, 1945 campaign) and two D-Day (June 6, 1944) anniversary (the 60th and 65th) tours. I haven’t asked her, but I imagine Terry sometimes feels like a time traveler, as do I, transporting mentally and emotionally back and forth between the WWII 1940’s and current day on a regular basis.

In my research of the war and of those killed in action (or non-combat causes) while serving their country, I was aware that many of our service members remain to this day buried on foreign soil, but I was not knowledgeable as to why. Terry, who does some public speaking, created a “Why are They Buried There?” presentation to share her knowledge, obtained through six years of research and interviews, to answer this question and cover the American military cemeteries in Europe. The answer is not as simple as it seems, and certainly not because relatives could not afford to or care enough to bring them home.

As Terry informed me, the bottom line is that every soldier is buried just where the Next-of-kin asked for him to be buried, either directly or indirectly.

The Next-of-kin of the deceased service member was given four choices for their final resting place. Between the “Disposition of World War II Armed Forces Dead” booklet published by the War Department in 1946 and provided to a service member’s family, along with Terry’s help in understanding these choices, here are the four options given to Next-of-kin. The options fall into two main groupings, with two options in each group.

U.S. Choices – Repatriated to the U.S.

  • A National Cemetery in the U.S. The remains be returned to the United States for final interment in a national cemetery. The U.S. government was responsible for all planning and bore all expenses. The only thing the family had to do was attend the funeral, and that was optional. Teresa notes that although the service member would be buried in America and at no cost whatsoever to the family, the cemetery, which was chosen by the government, might not be convenient to the family for visiting the gravesite, and the timing of everything was all up to the government, which did not ask for input or rearrange timing due to a family scheduling conflict. [The booklet notes that the national cemetery would be selected by the Next-of-kin, however, if the selected cemetery was no longer open for burials at the time the request was received back at the War Department, another selection would be required].
  • A Family/Home Cemetery in the U.S. The remains be returned to the United States, or any possession or territory there-of, for interment by next of kin in a private cemetery. Like the choice of a national cemetery in the U.S., the U.S. government was responsible for all planning and bore all expenses up to and including transportation of the casket/remains to the railroad station closest to where the funeral was to be held. At that point the family took over planning and could have it as minimalist or with as much pomp as they want. The government provided a flat stipend to offset costs. If more than the stipend, the family paid that amount out of their pocket. Teresa notes the example: the grave marker is provided by the U.S. government, the standard plaque, which is never included in determining the stipend. If the family wants bible passages, personal inscriptions (brother, dad, son), or to have his name engraved on the family obelisk, and the cost is over the stipend, the family paid.

Overseas Choices – Buried in Europe

  • American Military Cemetery Overseas. The remains be interred in a permanent American military cemetery overseas. There were two basic reasons for the overseas burials, by design or by default.
    • By Design, because the family requested it, and there were several reasons for the request.
      • The service member requested it. Teresa notes as an example, the service member told his brother, dad, wife, etc., that if he doesn’t make it home, to bury him with his buddies, men, or country he fought in. Thus they are honoring his final request.
      • For the sake of the family. Teresa notes the difficulty for the service member’s children, younger siblings, and elderly parents not being able to go through or restart the mourning process. In Europe, American service members were dying as early as 1942. The earliest the U.S. government was able to return remains home for burial was late 1946 and continued until late 1950. Many families had already had memorial services as soon as they learned of the son’s death. Teresa has had children of soldiers tell her this.
      • Unfounded rumors. Teresa notes that families heard rumors that rocks, German soldiers, or a different U.S. serviceman was in the casket sent home. They believed the Graves Registration team didn’t care or were bad at their job. Teresa adds, know that the Graves Registration team did their job as well as all the other airmen, soldiers, and sailors did theirs and this belief was not deserved. Teresa also notes that one source tells that the team had to be one hundred percent sure it was the family’s service member or else that service member was not identified.  Not ninety or ninety-five percent, one hundred percent sure. Once a Next-of-kin believed this type of rumor, it was next to impossible to dislodge. [Note: the booklet does include an extended discussion regarding the identity of the deceased.]
    • By Default, because the Next-of-kin never replied despite many attempts to reach them. Teresa mentions the War Department tried many times to directly contact the Next-of-kin, and they also used the ‘social media’ of the day. There were articles placed in newspapers around the country that asked about the service member in question. They provided his name, his Next-of-kin and the last address they had. They then asked readers for their help in contacting the family.
  • Family Country. The remains be shipped within, or returned to a foreign country, the homeland of the deceased or next of kin, for interment by next of kin in a private cemetery. If the service member or one of his parents were native to a country in Europe, the family could request he be buried there, either in one of the large American military cemeteries or the family could plan a burial in their family village. Teresa notes that six families requested their service member be buried in Poland, but  Poland’s new government never gave their approval nor their disapproval, thus the six were buried at one of the two American cemeteries in Belgium.

Aside from the above four options, the War Department provided for an,

Alternate Choice. The Next-of-kin was also given the option of an Alternate Choice, which meant that if none of the above options provided for their wish, they could submit their specific desire to the Office of the Quartermaster General for final decision by the War Department.

Thanks to Teresa Hirsch, I have a much better understanding of the Next-of-kin’s choices and reasons why WWII deceased service members were buried where they were.

This leads me to my next task of reviewing where the airmen serving with the Buslee and Brodie crews of the 384th Bomb Group are buried. Stay tuned for a look at that information in a couple of weeks.

Sources

Teresa Hirsch, WWII Genealogist

Pamphlet: Disposition of World War II Armed Forces Dead

Website: American Battle Monuments Commission

Previous post in this series

American Cemetery Grave Adopters

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021

American Cemetery Grave Adopters

Memorial Day is an American holiday we observe every year on the last Monday of May. On this day we honor the men and women who died while serving in the U.S. military. Memorial Day 2021 was observed earlier this week, on Monday, May 31.

Memorial Day originated following the American Civil War and was originally known as Decoration Day. It did not become an official federal holiday until 1971. Today, Americans observe Memorial Day by visiting military cemeteries or memorials, holding family gatherings, and attending patriotic concerts and parades.

With the recent observance of Memorial Day, it seemed like an appropriate time to explore the topic of American military service members buried on foreign soil.

In this and two future posts, I’ll explore the American Cemetery in Margraten grave adoption program, look into why some of our military dead are still buried overseas, and review which members of the Buslee and Brodie crews of the September 28, 1944 mid-air collision are buried there and in which cemeteries.


WWII Genealogist Teresa (Terry) Hirsch recently asked for my assistance. Terry informed me that the adopter of Lt. James Joseph Brodie’s grave at the Netherlands American Cemetery at Margraten wanted to connect with a Brodie family member. (James Brodie, who was killed in the mid-air collision in which my father was involved, is buried in Plot J, Row 13, Grave 4 of the cemetery).

In her research to assist the adopter, Terry ran across one of my posts about James Brodie with a mention of his great-nephew, Larry Miller, and asked if I’d facilitate the connection. I was able to contact Larry and hand off Terry’s contact information. Larry agreed to be connected with the adopter, and by now, I imagine Brodie’s grave adopter has successfully connected with Brodie’s family.

Another happy ending for Terry. Another happy ending for me. We both feel satisfied with a job well done when we can assist in a request regarding a WWII service member.

One thing always seems to lead to another in the world of WWII research, so it got me thinking about all the service members buried overseas. The next-of-kin had the option to bring their deceased family member home at the government’s expense, so why would they leave them buried on foreign soil? Seems I had connected with exactly the right person to answer my question and Terry educated me on the subject.

I’ll get to an in-depth look at the overseas burials in my next post, but first let’s look at the grave adoption program itself. Terry tells me that, at the American Cemetery at Margraten in the Netherlands, “Not only has every grave been adopted since 1945 but there is now a waiting list of 1000 [folks wanting to be adopters]!  The Adoption Foundation closed the list about a year ago as it will take years to get to all of them.”

The adopter of James Brodie’s grave was a new adopter and had only recently received Brodie’s name. Terry said, “each time I encounter a person or story, my faith in humanity is renewed,” and “hearing of this person finally getting a soldier to honor just does my heart good.” I can relate to Terry’s emotional connection to our WWII war dead and the current day adopters who honor them.

Terry also shared an online video the Adoption Foundation produced in 2018 that tells their story from a past, present and future perspective.

Watch on Vimeo here:

* * * * *

Of course, the Netherlands American Cemetery at Margraten is not the only overseas military cemetery dedicated to the war dead. The website of the American Battle Monuments Commission lists many memorials and cemeteries both here and overseas. The site notes,

ABMC administers, operates and maintains 26 permanent American military cemeteries and 32 federal memorials, monuments and markers, which are located in 17 foreign countries, the U.S. Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, and the British Dependency of Gibraltar; four of the memorials are located within the United States. These cemeteries and memorials, most of which commemorate the service and sacrifice of Americans who served in World War I and World War II, are among the most beautiful and meticulously maintained shrines in the world.

Not all of the cemeteries have grave adoption programs, but several do. However, Terry notes, “The ones that do exist are not run by one common organization so they differ in signup, ‘responsibilities’, and support.  What the common denominator is they all are with the intention of remembering the soldier buried so far from home.”

Some of the other cemeteries with grave adoption programs are, in France, Lorraine American Cemetery, Epinal American Cemetery, Normandy American Cemetery, and Brittany American Cemetery, and in Belgium, Ardennes American Cemetery, and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery.

According to Terry, the two things that make Margraten’s grave adoption unique are (1) how early it started, in February 1945, months before the war in Europe ended, and (2) the percentage of those buried and memorialized whose graves are currently adopted, at 100% adopted with 1000 adopters on the waiting list.

More about Teresa Hirsch

Terry’s dad served in WWII with the 11th Army Air Forces in Alaska.  Terry describes him as “the guy who would draw the maps of how/what route to take for their flights. As they didn’t use formations like in Europe it must have been more basic routing.” She adds, “He went up there in the Summer of ’42 and out in Spring ’45.”

Terry has no connection with individual adopters. She helps organizations and individuals find requested information about American service members buried overseas.

Terry takes advantage of the databases and photos provided by the individual WWII bombardment groups on their websites, like those of the 384th and 100th. By the way, the 100th Bomb Group (aka the “Bloody Hundredth”) is the subject of the Tom Hanks/Steven Spielberg film currently in production based on the Donald Miller book, Masters of the Air.

The group websites are great for sources of photos requested by the cemeteries and adopters. For example, when the Cambridge cemetery staff commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Friendly Invasion in 2017, Terry helped find photos to place at gravesites.

Terry also finds a lot of help from information services of public libraries that were local to the service members’ homes during wartime.

In a March 2018 article, Library Finds Photo for Dutch Gravesite, written by Patricia Ann Speelman and published in the Sidney Daily News (of Sidney, Shelby County, Ohio), I learned that,

The adopters don’t refer to the fallen as soldiers, airmen, sailors or servicemen. The call them liberators. Those 10,000 men and women gave their lives to liberate the Netherlands and the rest of Europe from the Nazis. The Dutch have never taken that sacrifice for granted.

The Sidney Daily News article was triggered by Teresa’s search for Oscar C. Drees, one of three Shelby County soldiers buried at Margraten. The article tells of the successful find of Drees’ photo and gives a lot of insight into the history of and current day activities surrounding the Margraten grave adoptions such as the Faces of Margraten project.

A December 2020 article, Grave Markers of WWII Soldiers from City Now Complete in Netherlands, written by Lori Szepelak and published in The Westfield News (of Westfield, Massachusetts), tells of another successful find of the photograph of Staff Sgt. Arthur E. Wilson of Westfield thanks to Teresa Hirsch.

Note: Don’t ever forget how helpful librarians can be. At Florida’s info.askalibrarian.org, the motto is “We are librarians. And we know the answers to questions you didn’t even know to ask.” Thank you Florida Librarians and Librarians everywhere!

And about that title, WWII Genealogist. Terry adopted the title because of her genealogy-type work and the fact that she performs this work only for WWII service members. I think the title fits her perfectly and, in part, fits me pretty well, too. Don’t be surprised to find it added to my next business card – Researcher/Writer/WWII Genealogist. It has a nice ring to it.

Teresa Hirsch, I thank you for your service to our American service members who gave their lives for our freedom during WWII.

And to our grave adopters and others who watch over and care for our American liberators resting at Margraten and elsewhere, thank you from the bottom of my heart.

Website Links

American Battle Monuments Commission

Netherlands American Cemetery at Margraten

James J. Brodie Burial Information

On Vimeo: Stichting Adoptie Graven Amerikaanse begraafplaats Margraten

© Cindy Farrar Bryan and The Arrowhead Club, 2021