We have successfully returned the voice of Sgt. Earl W. Garrison back home to his family after 73 years!
It’s been five weeks since Joey left for Okinawa. Joey is catching up on everything now that he has returned home to The Netherlands. We are releasing this blog about a few of his experiences on the trip.
On May 8th of this year, Joey flew to Okinawa for two weeks to explore the World War 2 battlefields. The plan was to walk in the footsteps of the various units that fought in the Battle of Okinawa. This battle lasted almost two months from April 1, 1945 to May 21, 1945. With the history being so alive here in Europe, Joey noticed this is not the case on Okinawa. Most people don’t really know about the war and the battle sites are “like a shy little boy in a big crowd.” Nevertheless, Joey visited the following sites and footsteps:
- Mount Yaedake in the footsteps of the 6th Marine Division
- Ie Jima Island in the footsteps of the 77th Infantry Division
- The area of Yonabaru and the footsteps of the 7th and 96th Infantry Division
- Chatan – Yomitan, the landing beaches of the 1st and 6th Marine Division and 7th and 96th Infantry Division
- Hacksaw Ridge in the footsteps of Desmond T. Doss and the 77th Infantry Division
- Kakazu Ridge in the footsteps of the 96th Infantry Division
- Sugar Loaf Hill, the bloodiest site for the 6th Marine Division
- Many more!
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Wow! Today was an amazing day as I took a boat trip to Ie Jima, an island of the Okinawa prefecture. After the US army recognized there was almost no Japanese resistance in the North they could as well already go for Ie Jima. That's why on April 16th, L-Day +15, the 77th Infantry Division went ashore there on the south western coast. The location of the pictures were Red 1 and Red 2, the sector for the 305th Infantry Regiment. All of the Japanese forces however, were on the big mountain overlooking the island, Mount Gusuku, known as 'The Pinnacle'. Another regiment, the 306th arrived within 600 yards of that hill on the same day when they encountered most of the Japanese resistance. It wouldn't be until April 21st when the hill was captured and the island was taken. Today I came across a building full of bullet impact holes and other traces of war, as well as a foxhole while climbing up Mount Gusuku. Another great trip in the footsteps of the brave men who fought there! Tomorrow I'm moving to a new Guesthouse to another part of the Okinawa Battlefields! @footstepsresearchers
For Joey, Mount Yaedake, Ie Jima Island and both Hacksaw and Kakazu Ridge were his favorite sites! The first two had a wonderful nature with many historical spots. Kakazu Ridge was probably the most ‘alive’ place as it contained many signs and locations to visit. Hacksaw Ridge is a very well known ridge that’s known from the 2016 movie and Joey went there to compare the movie with the real location.
As the weeks pass by, Joey will be editing and releasing video’s of his complete trip on his YouTube Channel. As Footsteps Researchers we’re very proud and happy to add Okinawa to our work list. Joey said he has a clear view of the Island, the battles that took places and the culture. He’s ready to lead footsteps tours for people who look to visit their veteran’s footsteps on this Japanese Island!
When you are reading this, Joey van Meesen, will be on an airplane on his way to Okinawa, Japan. For two weeks he will move around the island to research the World War 2 Battlefields. Throughout the trip, he will be actively posting pictures and other content on Facebook and Instagram. But the biggest effort will be put into his YouTube Travel Video series where he walks the battlefields and explores the island.
Joey hopes to learn and understand the Okinawan culture and also to show the world what the former battlefields look like today. He’ll be walking in the footsteps of the 1st and 6th Marine Division as well as the 7th, 77th and 96th Infantry Division who all fought in the Battle of Okinawa.
Don’t forget about Hacksaw Ridge with the story of Desmond T. Doss! Joey will be visiting Hacksaw Ridge! Another interesting fact is that right now it’s the 73rd Anniversary of the battle which took place from April 1 to June 22, 1945. The Footsteps Researchers team members are really looking forward to following his travels as he visits these sacred locations, hikes in the mountains, and follows the footsteps of one of the bloodiest battles in World War 2.
Besides a lot of fun and interesting stuff, this trip will help him broaden his work field. Joey hopes to gain a ton of knowledge and experience with the battlefields over there as well as the island itself. The Pacific Theater and research of it is overlooked way too often compared to the European Theater. Also for Footsteps Researchers, it’ll expand our service to the Pacific. This means we can help MORE families and honor MORE veterans!
Today our European researcher, Joey van Meesen, took possession of the pocket knife owned by Prentice W. Ball. This WWII relic was found on April 1, 2018, by Frank van Vark and Joey’s dad, Ronald van Meesen. Traveling to Germany, Joey and his dad went back to the original location and foxhole where the knife was found.
In March 1945 Pfc Ball’s unit, A Company, 117th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division was in position preparing for their offensive farther into Germany. On March 22, 1945, in the woods south of Alpen, Germany, Pfc Ball and his platoon sat huddled in their foxholes awaiting orders to move forward and engage the enemy.
The next day, March 23, 1945, the 117th Regiment received the orders to move closer to the Rhine River to the town of Wallach. During this move, Prentice W. Ball apparently dropped his knife in the foxhole as his unit was moving out.
March 24, A & B Company of the 117th crossed the Rhine River at Wallach and took the town of Ork, capturing 150 German prisoners in the process.
Fast forward 73 years. The recovered relic is an original Case XX Hunter’s knife with a bakelite handle. It stayed in good condition for all those years due to the superior construction and materials used in the manufacture of the knife.
During the second trip to the site, Joey captured the scene on film where Pfc Ball’s knife was found. Joey can now send the knife back to Myra Miller (USA). Myra and team member, Sara Collins, will personally deliver the knife to the family in Alabama. A ceremony will be held on May 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm in Cullman, Alabama at West Point High School.
While working on a client project about the 83rd Infantry Division, European Researcher Joey van Meesen came across a picture of the 83rd Signal Company somewhere in Belgium. With the use of Morning Reports and other documents he was able to find the location where the Signal Company was billeted that day. Fortunately, we were able to find the location where the picture was taken by using Google Street View.
The photograph was taken by the 83rd Signal Company on January 27th 1945, right after the Battle of the Bulge. The unit was staying in the Belgian town of Houmart, Belgium. At Footsteps Researchers, we are specialized in tracing the footsteps of your veteran. In some cases, as you can see with this example, we find the EXACT footsteps.
To expand our services beyond the European Theater of Operations. Joey van Meesen will be going to Okinawa, Japan this May to explore the World War II battlefields of the Pacific Theater. A European Theater expert, Joey will put his history degree to use as he travels this specific area of Asia. As our Footsteps Researchers on-the-ground researcher/tour guide, he will travel from his home in The Netherlands to learn more about the units that fought in the Pacific.
Desmond T. Doss, B Co, 307th Infantry, 77th Infantry Division, won the Medal of Honor for his actions on Hacksaw Ridge. His story is well known from the movie Hacksaw Ridge, released in 2016.
Joey will be staying on the island for two weeks visiting key sites such as Hacksaw Ridge and Kakazu Ridge. Another big part of the trip is to learn about the Okinawan lifestyle and people. This will benefit our team when we lead Footsteps Researchers Tours in the Pacific!
Unique. Team. Research.
How does our team approach your research needs differently?
Think of your veteran’s story as a puzzle still in the box. To make the image take shape, many individual pieces have to come together from both sides of the Atlantic. The process of assembling your veteran’s unique puzzle begins with Myra at the National Archives in St. Louis. From the World War II military personnel records she has access to, a detailed picture begins to emerge of a soldier’s activity during service—and afterwards, in the case of a hero killed in action. From Belgium, Joey is then able to reconstruct your veteran’s path, using his access European archives, battlefields, and local historians and experts.
Our combined efforts and access to the most extensive WWII resources allow us to create the most complete picture of your veteran’s experience. It is our mission to help you learn more about your family
Our team specializes in presenting your veteran’s information in the format most meaningful to you—in writing, in maps, in video-documentary, and in tours.
We offer the follow packages:
- Footsteps Research
- Footsteps Research Package
- Footsteps Footsteps Photo & Video Package
- Footsteps Tours Silver Star Package
- Footsteps Tours Gold Star Package
Click here for more information about our packages!
Tracing. Exact. Footsteps.
Why are Morning Reports a critical tool in tracing the exact footsteps of your veteran?
A Morning Report provided the higher command with an essential overview of all personnel activity within the company on a given day. It contains the following details:
- The company’s exact location
- Names of personnel transferred to another company
- Names of personnel wounded or killed in action—in the case of transfer to a hospital, the report gives the particular hospital unit.
- The strength of the company—that is, the number of active soldiers that day
- An overview of the rations in the company’s inventory
- Sometimes, a brief record of events about the company’s activities that day—e.g., moving or fighting
Searching Morning Reports is a labor-intensive process. They are stored on microfilm and require patient, careful searching through reels of negatives. Let us locate, process, and interpret your veteran’s files.
Disclaimer: Please bare in mind that requesting and receiving your files usually takes two to four weeks!