To The Sun:
My name is Glen D. Owen and I am researching on behalf of the Dutch organization, “The Faces of Margraten.” Recently I gazed across the endless rows of white marble crosses and stars of David in the American Military Cemetery located near Margraten, Netherlands. I could not imagine the pain and sacrifice paid during World War II by the families of our American soldiers and airmen who now “rest-in-peace” in the beautiful Dutch countryside.
The citizens of the Netherlands and Belgium have not forgotten this sacrifice. Each of the 8,301 graves and 1,722 names on the “walls-of-missing” has been adopted by a local family who treat their grave as if it were their own family member. This is a tremendous compliment to our heroes who gave their “last full measure of devotion” in a foreign country for the freedoms we hold dear in America. Their stories and pictures can be viewed at the Fields of Honor-Database (www.fieldsofhonor-database.com).
The goal of the “The Faces of Margraten” (www.degezichtenvanmargraten.nl) project is to locate an authentic picture of each of our World War II soldiers and airmen buried or memorialized in the American Cemetery. So far nearly 6,000 pictures have been located with over 4,000 yet to go.
Nearly a year ago I began researching public records for 47 Kansas soldiers and airmen whose pictures had not yet been located. Currently, with the help of Ms. Sherrie Smith, a Daughters of the American Revolution (DAR) member from Hays, we have located 25 of the 47 missing Kansas pictures.
Recently I had the pleasure to meet with14 Dutch citizens who are “adopt-a-grave” families (www.adoptiegraven-margraten.nl). Two of the families have had their soldier or airman in their family since 1945 ... over 74 years. Incredible! It was my pleasure to share with them a picture, for the first time ever, of their adopted American soldier or airmen. Needless to say, this was an overwhelming experience for me.
As I continue to search for the remaining 22 Kansas pictures, it has been brought to my attention that there may be those organization such as the VFW or American Legion that may have an interest in searching for photos of the soldiers and airmen from your local area, county or state. If you or your organization are interested in researching for the Faces of Margraten project please contact me and I will facilitate your efforts.
I welcome your interest and encourage your enthusiasm. The reward is overwhelming. Thank you for your consideration! — LT. COL. GLEN OWEN, U.S. Air Force (retired), Springboro, Ohio (Glen.firstname.lastname@example.org, 937-266-2267)
Editor’s note: Lt. Col. Owen’s research shows five soldiers buried near Margraten with ties to Southeast Kansas and Labette County. They are: PFC Wilfred Baker (KIA April 16, 1945); Sgt. Ross E. Bringle (KIA April 20, 1945); Pvt. Charles E. Moon (KIA April 14, 1945); PFC Glen O. Kline (KIA April 10, 1945); and 1st Sgt. Forrest R. Evans (KIA April 23, 1945). Baker, Bringle and Moon have Labette County ties and Baker has family still in the area, though the Sun has been unable to contact them. Evans and Kline have Montgomery County ties. Lt. Col. Owen plans on traveling to Margraten in May 2020.