I began contact with Joey van Meesen back in late 2014. At that time I was simply surfing through You-Tube videos that dwelt with the Battle of the Bulge. I was curious about my cousin’s death during that battle but had never known any of the slightest details as to what exactly happened to him or where. When I was a child growing up in the 1950’s, my mother had occasionally mentioned my cousin, Willard Meek, and the fact that he was killed in Belgium at the Battle of the Bulge. That is the extent of the information she had concerning his death. None of our other relatives in the U.S. had any more information than my parents had, and so the decades passed, and my family resigned to the fact that war leaves many loose ends that never find true closure.
As I searched the You-Tube pages a specific video caught my attention. It was created by a young man named Joey van Meesen and he was giving some details concerning the Battle of the Bulge. This of course arose my curiosity, since he was extremely interested in WWII history and the Battle of the Bulge. I watched the video with much interest and at one point he asked his viewers for possible suggestions for his You-Tube channel. I decided to take him up on his offer, and I emailed him suggesting that perhaps it may be a good idea for him to read any WWII correspondence that may be offered by his viewers. Along with my suggestion, I sent him copies of two V-Mail letters that my parents had from my cousin Willard, as he wrote from an unknown location at the Battle of the Bulge. I wasn’t expecting anything other than sharing a couple of interesting V-Mail type letters that I had from the “Bulge.” I thought Joey may be interested in reading them.
To my surprise Joey made a special video wherein he read my cousin’s two V-Mail letters. The video is titled “Letters from the Frontline: KIA Near Bastogne”. In this video Joey came up with the idea of researching Willard Meek’s military history; footsteps if you will – from the time he arrived in Belgium in December of 1944. I was amazed at the offer, and of course thought it was a great idea, but I held little hope that he would find any additional information on this long lost case. But … was I ever so wrong!
To make a long story short, Joey’s dedication and research knowledge paid off beyond my wildest dreams. He had not only uncovered the exact location of my cousin’s death, but in addition to that he discovered the cause of death (which was a mystery at first) and the exact house in which my cousin Willard was killed in. The house is still standing today, and Joey even drove hundreds of miles in order to obtain pictures of the house. The case was especially sad since it involved not only the death of Willard Meek but included the deaths of many of his Company A companions of the 312th Engineer Battalion. The details finally came to light after 70 years, and closure for many families, thanks to Joey’s passion and expertise in uncovering WWII history.
– Danny Webster – Footsteps Photo & Video Package – January 2015