Letters of War: Wounded in the Ardennes

FIGHTING WITH THE 83RD – Two weeks ago, I received a new package of five letter covers from different enlisted men of the US Army during the Second World War. Since I’ve been involved with the 83rd Infantry Division lately, I also bought two covers of an officer who served in the M/330th, 83rd. These were written by Frank J. Markham.

The 83rd Division is actually very easy to research as most of their documents are available online through http://www.83rdinfdivdocs.org which are very nicely organized by Thijs Hodiamont. Footsteps Researchers has been working the past two years to image all of the Morning Reports at the Archives in St. Louis to make this site possible. It is because of this fantastic website that I was able to track down Markham through the Morning Reports of his unit, M Company, 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division.

Frank Markham joins M Company of the 330th Infantry Regiment on July 19, 1944.

Markham joined M Company as a replacement officer when the unit was in Normandy, France on the 19th of July, 1944. At the time he was a second lieutenant and upon joining, he probably replaced another officer who was sent on to another Company of the same regiment. Markham’s MOS was 1542, which stood for Infantry Unit Commander, which likely meant that he was a platoon leader.

On the 17th of October, Markham was in Luxembourg when he was taken off the line due to a disease. He rejoined his outfit three days later. Eventually, Markham was promoted from 2nd Lieutenant to 1st Lieutenant on the 6th of November, 1944. 

Markham continued to serve with his unit in the Hürtgen Forest and in Belgium during the Battle of the Bulge. But, on the 4th of January, when still in Belgium near the town of Malempre, he was somehow taken off the line due to a non-battle cause on the Line of Duty. He was transferred to the 102nd Evacuation Hospital and supposedly didn’t return to the unit. I wasn’t able to track Markham after that. Due to the circumstances of his transfer, I believe he suffered from trench foot or frostbite. Myra, our lead researcher at the Archives in St. Louis is pulling his service records… I wonder what they will tell about Markham’s service.

Unfortunately, he isn’t with us anymore. Markham passed away in 1993 at the age of 80.

  • Morning Reports are the key to exact footsteps and can only be searched at the National Personnel Records Center in St. Louis where the WWII microfilm is held. Myra and the Footsteps Researchers Team in St. Louis work hard to get these documents for clients. Contact-us if you are interested in having us help you find your veteran’s footsteps.

Marvel Creator Wounded in World War II

The new Marvel’s film, Captain Marvel, will open with a tribute to Stan Lee. Together with Jack Kirby he created almost all the Marvel comics. Kirby was the only one that served as infantryman on the battlefields in Europe.

In 1943 Kirby was drafted into the United States Army (Service Number: 32966619). He followed his basic training and joined F Company of the 11th Infantry Regiment, 5th Infantry Division in Europe in their drive through France. In September 1944 the men of the division received the mission to take the fortified town of Metz.

This proved to be the deadliest task of the Division throughout the war and Kirby witnessed it all by himself. From September 8 to 10, the 11th his regiment made a crossing over the Moselle River at the village of Dornot to the village of Corny. Unexpected, the Germans had set a trap for them. Kirby found himself on hell on earth.

Information from Hospital Admission Cards (NARA)

The men who made it across the Moselle were trapped in a patch of woods named after its shape: The Horseshoe Woods. Somewhere between the 8th and 14th of November, Kirby was wounded by bullet in his shoulderblade. He was treated at the battalion’s aid station to continue the fight. However, it was a cold month and the Moselle river was flooding. On November 14, Kirby was taken off the line with trench foot. It wasn’t until July ’45 that he was discharged from the hospital.

A couple of years ago a memorial was erected by the Thanks GI’s assocation
on the location where Kirby once fought. True Marvel fans might’ve recognized the war’s influence on Kirby’s work. However, for the rest of the people this information will give new understanding to the works of Captain America, Hulk and many other well known Marvel characters that were created by Kirby.

Crosses in the Wind

One of the most overlooked units in World War II is the Graves Registration Service. The men assigned to this unit were responsible for processing the bodies of killed US enlisted men as they were transferred to their final resting place. As Footsteps Researchers, we come across very interesting and sad documents when we image the Individual Deceased Personnel Files (IDPFs) for clients. Many times, we hold handwritten and heartfelt letters from mothers, fathers, wives, and others; begging for answers as to where their loved one’s belongings were or dealing with the burial of their soldier’s body.

In 1947, a book called Crosses in the Wind: Graves Registration Service in the Second World War was published by Joseph Shomon, commander of the 611th
Quartermaster, Graves Registration Company during World War II. Its first press was the only one ever printed making the book very hard to get. However, in 2016 a limited edition print run was done and the book is available again. This is a fantastic read as it describes the service and jobs men had to endure in less than pleasant environments.

The personal account of Joseph Shomon takes you from Bastogne to Berlin and gives you insight into the birth of the American War Cemetery in Margraten. It’s not a personal story of war, but a tale of the consequences of war. The job done by men like Shomon was a necessary one, allowing every enlisted man to rest in peace.

We are proud to assist families and those interested in the burial records that are housed at NARA St. Louis. Our Footsteps archive researchers submit the forms in person and image every page with great care. We owe a great deal to the men who served in the Graves Registration Service and thank them all for their service, commitment, and honorable dedication to our fallen warriors.

Graves Registration Form for an official burial of a WWII soldier.

Then and Now Photos with Joey and Myra

On December 30, 2018, Joey van Meesen and Myra Miller took off on a day trip through Belgium and Luxembourg (with Ronald van Meesen singing in the back seat). The goal was to locate current locations to match original WW2 photos. Then Joey used his skills to blend the shots together. We had so much fun that day! #footstepsresearchers @footstepsresearchers.

Then & Now: Infantrymen of the 83rd Infantry Division march into Bovigny, Belgium, after driving east from Bois de Bonce Forest. Co. Bo, 329th Regt. US First Army. 20 January 1945. Signal Corps Photo. ETO-HQ-45-9096 (Tec 4 Leo Moran) from 165 Sig Photo Co. Released by Field Press Censor 22 January 1945.
(Myra the photographer with Joey walking in the picture.)

Then & Now: Tank destroyer moves with the infantry through the town of Bovigny, Belgium. The column in the foreground is World War I Memorial. 329th Regiment, 1st Battalion, 83rd Infantry Division. 639th Tank Destroyer Battalion. 20 Jan 1945. Signal Corps Photo HQ-45-9099 (Moran). Released by Field Press Censor 22 Jan 1945.
(Myra the photographer with Joey posing like the statue in the picture.)

Then & Now: This photograph shows members from the 137th Infantry Regiment of the 35th Division standing near a war-torn building in Tintange, Belgium.
(Joey the photographer with Myra walking toward the building in the picture.)

Government Shutdown Affects Archive Researchers

We hope we will be back to the Archives soon to finish our projects for clients!

Successful Return!

We have successfully returned the voice of Sgt. Earl W. Garrison back home to his family after 73 years!

WWII Veteran’s Voice Returns to Family After KIA

An LP, mistaken as a disco record, survives a house fire and lost for 73 years returns to family in California


ST. LOUIS, MISSOURI, December 3, 2018— On March 30, 1945, Sgt. Earl W. Garrison was with the 99th Bombardment Squadron, 9th Bomb Group en route to Japan when his crew experienced mechanical trouble. The B-29 jettisoned their mines and made it back to Tinian Island but crashed on the shore. Garrison was one of 11 crew members who were killed that day. There was only one survivor. For Sgt. Garrison, his time during WWII with the Second Air Force ended tragically leaving a mother, father, brothers, sisters, and wife Irene, distraught

However, Sgt. Garrison did leave something behind, his voice.

While deployed to the staging field at Herington Army Airfield in Herington, Kansas, Sgt. Garrison waited with his crew members for their departure on overseas assignments. During one of these waiting periods and prior to taking off for the Pacific Theater, Garrison encountered a mobile recording studio on base who recorded messages to loved ones from soldiers. He sat down and spoke into the microphone to record side “A” which opens with a greeting, “From Herington Army Airfield, we have the voice of Earl Garrison…” and then continues with a message from Earl to his mother and father. Garrison assures them he is fine and will see them soon. The flip side of the record “B” is to Irene, his wife. He tells her she has made him “the happiest man in the world” and will be home soon.

Unfortunately, Sgt. Garrison did not make it home.

Fast forward to the year 2010 when a “disco” record was given to Jerry and Jill Adlon (St. Louis, Missouri) in a box of other records from his mother. The story his mother had received the record from her mother. Jill listened to the record in 2013 and realized it wasn’t a disco record and made a an effort to try to find Garrison’s family with little success. Then in 2014, their house was destroyed by fire. Several items were saved, including the antique hifi, and stored until they rebuilt in 2016. When the hifi was moved into their new home, Jill realized that the record with Garrison’s voice was still on the turntable, undamaged by the fire.

Then in May 2018, Sara Collins, a friend of the family and a member of Footsteps Researchers, was at the Adlon’s home and listened to the record. At the first sounds of Garrison’s voice, she said her jaw dropped and knew that her team of WWII researchers should find his family. Through the nonprofit arm of the research group named LEGACY: Lost and Found, Sara found the family of Garrison in San Francisco.

What was the connection with Earl W. Garrison and how did the record end up in the Midwest? Further research by the group found that Irene Garrison moved to St. Louis after her husband’s untimely death. She remarried and worked as a nurse. It remains a mystery how the Adlon’s relatives ended up with the record in the first place.

The voice of Earl W. Garrison returns to his family 73 years later.

Two members of Footsteps Researchers, Myra Miller and Sara Collins, are flying from Missouri to present the record to Earl W. Garrison’s family on Wednesday, December 5th, at 6:30 pm in Petaluma, California at a private residence. Nieces and nephews will be present to receive the record and information about Sgt. Earl W. Garrison’s WWII service. The family has secured a record player so as to play the recording immediately upon return. The media is welcome to interview the family members and researchers after the presentation. Media must contact Myra Miller in order to acquire directions to the address.   

Above: Jill Adlon with Myra Miller, Earl W. Garrison military photo

Footsteps Researchers LLC:

Myra Miller, PhD, (St. Louis, Missouri) and Sara Collins (Berryton, Kansas) are two members of the research group who worked on the return of the record. The group is typically paid to find records and reports from the National Records and Personnel Center in St. Louis in addition to creating Footsteps Research Packages and leading WWII Battlefield Tours in Europe. However, they do provide a nonprofit service called LEGACY: Lost and Found. They offer their expertise for free to help those who might have a relic from WWII with a name or initials scratched on it and try to help return the item to the rightful owners. More information can be found at www.footstepsresearchers.com.


Main Contact:
Myra Miller, PhD
Footsteps Researchers LLC
St. Louis, Missouri, USA

The War in Color

Prepare to be amazed! Check out the spectacular photographic colorization by Footsteps Researchers team member, Loïc Jankowiak. He is also a graphic designer when he isn’t working on WWII research! Click on the photos and see them transform before your eyes from black/white to color! You can contact Loïc at loic@footstepsresearchers.com if you are interested in having him colorize photos.

Our military artist, Ken Miller, can take any photograph and draw a portrait/landscape in graphite or watercolor! His email is kenmiller2858@yahoo.com it you would like to consult with him on a project. Frame one of his professional drawings and they make a unique and memorable gift. See examples below the photos.

Click on both photos!

Wreaths Across America in Normandy!

Wreaths Across American In Normandy is offering an opportunity to tell your Veteran’s Normandy story including a photo of your veteran. If selected, you could win a free trip to assist in the laying the Christmas wreaths at Collevile Sur Mer in Normandy. Myra submitted her father’s name… you can, too!