Footsteps Researchers adding archive detective at NARA College Park, Maryland

We are happy to announce that we are now able to get WWII Unit Journals, After Action Reports, photographs, and maps much faster from the NARA facility in College Park, Maryland.  In the past, we had to request them through another Independent for Hire Researcher which added to the cost and slowed down the process for our client. Now, we have our own Footsteps Researcher on the east coast with extensive archival research, specifically WWII.  We have researchers at both facilities where the most important documents for WWII are housed.

For any request regarding research, it helps to fill out the form on this site under the Contact Us tab. The request comes straight to our email box where we can then process into our project list.

NARA St. Louis, Missouri

Footsteps Researchers; Myra Miller, Kevin Banks, Kwabe Boaten, Ken Miller

NARA College Park, Maryland

Footsteps Researcher; Heather Steele

Guesthouse Bo Temps – Our recommended accommodations in the Ardennes!

Footsteps Researchers highly recommends this fabulous lodging experience if you are traveling to the heart of the Battle of the Bulge country in the Ardennes. Located in the center of the small village of Grandmenil, Belgium, this bed and breakfast is the place to make your reservation. You can’t miss it… it is next to the town’s church… just look for the steeple and next door is Bo Temps!

When we say the owners make this place special, we mean it! Bob and Eveline Konings are truly a joy and raise the bar with their customer service. Everything about Bo Temps is outstanding; food, rooms, atmosphere, garden, and even the cats.  Our favorite unique experience is visiting Tom and Ben’s Museum… the brilliant work of the Konings’ sons. Our rating is 5 stars!!!

To top it all off, we have added Bob Konings to our team at Footsteps Researchers. Bob specializes in Battle of the Bulge tours. His knowledge and great storytelling ability make his boots-on-the-ground tours a one-of-a-kind experience.  We are excited to have Bob as our expert for the Ardennes, Aachen, Hurtgen Forrest, Battle of Grandmenil, The Ottre Massacre, 75th Infantry Division, 3rd Armored Division, and 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion. Reserve Bo Temps and book a battlefield tour! It doesn’t get any easier than this!

You may contact the Konings directly for lodging information at http://www.ardennen-overnachting.be/. If you are interested in battlefield tours, contact Bob at http://www.ardennen-overnachting.be/battle-of-the-bulge-tours/

Check out their Facebook page at https://www.facebook.com/BedandBreakfastArdennenBoTemps/

 

 

   

Okinawa – Learning about the War in the Pacific

Okinawa Recap:

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!

View this post on Instagram

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

A post shared by Joedemadio WW2 Traveler (@joedemadio_ww2) on

 

Hacksaw Ridge!

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.

https://www.instagram.com/joedemadio_ww2/

Tours!

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!

In Search of a Father’s Footsteps – June 7, 1944

The son of Captain Henry C. Hobbs is pretty happy right now.

For many years, he has been searching for the location in Normandy, France where his father crash-landed his glider on June 7, 1944. All of his men survived and they walked over four miles to a command post in Les Forges before heading back to Utah Beach and England.

Chuck Hobbs was in Normandy during the 74th Anniversary of D-Day last week. He enlisted the help of Footsteps Researchers to find the glider crash landing area and to walk in his father’s footsteps.

The search started with Myra Miller in St. Louis organizing the Footsteps Researchers team. Myra assigned Kevin Banks, our Archive Researcher, specific files to pull along with flight records and Morning Reports from the National Archives where the WWII records are stored. Kevin sent his findings to Myra who then worked on figuring out the coordinates, maps, and locations based on information found in the reports. She then sent her findings and Skyped with team member Florent Plana, who lives in Normandy. The next day, Florent met with Chuck and took him to the area where the glider crashed in 1944… they traveled along the roads where a C-47 also crashed (Henry Hobbs mentioned finding this C-47 in his interrogation report)… and then to the command post where Henry and his men ended up.

Chuck reported back, “Myra, I had a wonderful time with Florent this afternoon. He did a super job and gave me a lot of information on the probable location where my father landed. He was also excellent in talking to local residents about what they remembered. Thanks for setting things up for me. I look forward to seeing the files when I get home.”

Teamwork and passion… this is how we make people happy!

 

Footsteps Researchers and Tour Guides

We have an awesome team of researchers on the ground covering the European Theater of operations for WWII. If you are interested in finding the exact footsteps of a WWII veteran, we can do it! Just fill out the contact us form. We can customize your search!


Joey van Meesen
Lead Researcher/Tour Guide – European/Pacific Theaters
Belgium, Luxembourg, The Netherlands, Okinawa
Battle of the Bulge, Operation Market Garden
Schiedam, Netherlands
joey@footstepsresearchers.com

Florent Plana
Researcher/Tour Guide – France
Normandy and Brittany Region
Operation Overlord
Bayeux, France
florent@footstepsresearchers.com

Loïc Jankowiak
Researcher/Tour Guide – Southern France
Southern France, Italy, Africa
Operation Dragoon
Bandol, France
loic@footstepsresearchers.com

LEGACY: Lost & Found – History Returns Home

Today, a family in Alabama got to touch and hold the etched pocket knife of their patriarch, Prentice W. Ball. Ball was a member of the 30th Infantry Division, 117th Infantry Regiment during WWII in 1944-45. He presumably dropped the knife in his foxhole as his unit was moving out to cross the Rhine River on March 23-24, 1945.

The well-preserved knife was found by metal detectors on April 1, 2018 in Germany. The knife was handed over to the Footsteps Researchers team to try to find the family in order to return it to the rightful owner. The successful search culminated today with members of the team driving to Cullman, Alabama to present the knife to the Ball Family.

We want to express the joy we felt seeing the family so happy.  It is our privilege and honor to return a part of history home.

The event will be featured on ABC 33/40 Birmingham affiliate at 10:00pm, May 20, 2018. You can also find it on their website at http://abc3340.com.

 

 

LEGACY: Lost & Found the Voice of Earl W. Garrison

BINGO!!!!! The family spent all day checking us out to make sure we were legit! YAY! We are now in touch with a relative of Earl W. Garrison, his great niece from California. He was KIA on March 30, 1945 in the Solomon Islands. The family has heard stories about him and informed us that they have photos. So, hearing his voice on this record will be fabulous! This is so much fun! Good job Sara!

This is our latest quest! We have a record from WWII with the voice of Earl W. Garrison from North Dakota. On the record, he mentions his siblings names. Our Special Projects Researcher (and guru), Sara Collins, has identified the family and we are now trying to make contact with them.

However, in the age of social media and scammers… we sometimes get deleted when we are making contact. We are posting this here in the hope that they will check out our website and see that we are real and that we want to return this valuable item to the family at no cost to them.

We are keeping our fingers crossed that the family responds to us via Facebook.

Myra and Sara

Skype Interview with ABC 33/40 in Birmingham Alabama

We had great fun being interviewed for this news report about Prentice W. Ball’s knife.

  • Joey was with his dad in The Netherlands
  • Sara was at her home in Kansas
  • Myra was sitting in her car at a truck stop in Missouri
  • Andrew Donley was in Birmingham, Alabama and interviewed us all at the same time via Skype!

Watch the video!  They interview the Ball family about what it feels like to have the knife returned to them. We can’t wait to meet them!

http://abc3340.com/news/local/alabama-wwii-soldiers-pocket-knife-found-abroad-on-its-way-to-family

Myra and Sara will be presenting the knife to the Ball family at West Point High School Library, Cullman, Alabama, May, 20, 2018 at 2:00 pm.

The knife made it to the USA and is with Myra!

Joey to the Battlefields of Okinawa

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!

Make sure to follow Joey both on Instagram, Facebook and Youtube. The YouTube video series will be edited and released in the summer months!

You can also follow Joey on our Facebook and Instagram!

Prentice W. Ball’s knife has arrived in the USA!

Myra is now in possession of Prentice W. Ball’s knife after it traveled from Alpen, Germany where it was hidden for 73 years in a foxhole. It was quite amazing to touch it and hold in my hand. Sara Collins and I are so excited to deliver the knife to the family on May 20th at 2:00 pm in the library at West Point High School, Cullman, Alabama.