Research Donations Accepted

My father was in the 83rd Infantry Division. I never knew anything about his service during WW2 until 2015 after he was long gone. Like other war-weary dads, he came home and didn’t say much so the stories and information died with him in 1980. I suddenly realized that living in St. Louis was very important, the National Archives housed the documents and reports needed to solve the puzzle. Once I taught myself the difficult research process, I started helping other families in the 83rd Infantry Division uncover their mysteries. Then my brothers and I traveled to Europe to follow in his footsteps and our lives changed forever.

During this research frenzy, by sheer fate, I met an Englishman online who had a second home in France, right smack dab in the area my father joined the 83rd on July 21, 1944. We ended up meeting Glyn Nightingale on our footsteps journey through the Hedgerows and instantly became family friends. Soon, Glyn and his family flew to St. Louis to meet a team of our friends with 83rd connections. The group was instrumental in helping image thousands of Morning Reports in just a few days. It didn’t stop there.

To add to the story, there was this other guy who lived in The Netherlands who was quietly building his own website and collecting data which started because his family had adopted the grave of an 83rd soldier at Henri-Chapelle Military Cemetery. Thijs Hodiamont had several months of Morning Reports in his database but the vast majority were still missing. That is when the magic happened! It became an ongoing volunteer project to image as many Morning Reports as possible in St. Louis and send them via email transfer to Thijs who began building the treasure trove of data into a full-blown picture of the footsteps of our soldiers fighting across Europe.

I also flew to College Park, Maryland in order to image many of the missing After Action Reports, Unit Journals, and General Orders of the 83rd Infantry Division. Now it is 2021 and our trio of volunteer worker bees are still helping others via our Facebook public group called 83rd Infantry Division Research & Documents. We spend many hours as administrators of the page, researching and helping others learn more about The Thunderbolts as they fought across Europe. We would appreciate your support to help us continue documenting and preserving the history and legacy of these men.

Thank you, Myra Miller

Your charitable contribution is tax-deductible via the DONATE button below!

LEGACY: LOST AND FOUND is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit #83-1240587 organization founded by researcher Myra Miller to discover the identities of the brave men and women who offered their youth and even sometimes their lives to battle the forces of evil during WW2 and preserved liberty around the planet 76 years ago.

LEGACY primarily assists the 83rd Infantry Division using volunteers to research, compile, and organize the archival records and other documents into one database and available online at https://83rdinfdivdocs.org/. Funds donated help support the expense of archival research and hours of data management.

LEGACY researches and identifies the heroes who owned items that were accidentally lost during or sold after WW2. It is our goal to help reunite these sacred relics with the veteran or family. We also strive to educate the family, local school children, and the public about their sacrifices.

LEGACY assists grave adopters around the world in preserving the deeply personal legacies of American World War II heroes for generations to come. Grave adopters must show proof/certificate of their adopted grave to be considered for LEGACY file work.

RETURNING WW2 RELICS

In forlorn and forgotten battlefields in Europe, Africa, and in the Pacific, the personal belongings of World War II soldiers who fought for their country continue to be recovered with awe and excitement by both amateur and professional archaeologists.  Weapons, uniforms, kits, and even deeply personal items like Bibles and correspondences are also bought and sold online, at fairs, and in antique shops around the world. Occasionally, someone finds a name or other identifying information on an object and begins to wonder: Who wore this jacket? Who wrote this letter? Who drank from this canteen?

Meanwhile, generations of families that lost a loved one in the war yearn to know more about their cherished young man or woman and to make sense of their sacrifices. Even veterans who returned home seldom spoke of their experiences, dying without passing on their legacies. Families are left bereft. What happened to him or her during the war? How did he or she live and die? Appreciating the pain, loss, and questions are not limited to the families of veterans. Would anyone appreciate their pain and loss outside the family? Will memories fade and history be forgotten?

In Europe, Dutch, Belgian, and French citizens—eternally grateful for the immense sacrifice Americans made to liberate them from the yoke of occupied tyranny—continue to adopt graves in the American military cemeteries in their regions. They often want to know more about the man or woman buried that they agreed to honor: What footsteps did he or she take in order to save them?

Returning a pocket knife to a family!

Both costly and time-consuming, the work of LEGACY requires assistance to carry out its mission. Once LEGACY has accepted the challenge of finding an item’s owner, we spend between 20 to 100 hours researching units, locations, personnel, and lost records and locating family members. Next, the veteran or the family is notified of the recovery of the sacred relic, and we organize its personal return. We arrange a full patriotic honoring service in the family’s hometown, regardless of the location. During the emotional and moving ceremony, two LEGACY staff members present the veteran’s personal story and item to the family, local school children, and the media to ensure that the veteran’s sacrifice is acknowledged and becomes part of the community’s historical record.

Additional third party funding can enable the family to follow in the footsteps of their hero and have a short film made, which can be shared with local schools, libraries, and descendants for hundreds of years to come.

Previous recipients have found the experience of receiving a recovered item meaningful and even life-changing at a surprisingly deep, personal level. Seeing their loved one publicly honored and talked about within the community of young and old often opens a floodgate of overwhelming emotions: Grief. Gratitude. Pride.

With your financial assistance, the LEGACY: LOST AND FOUND program can provide life-changing experiences for 10 to 12 American families and communities annually.

We would appreciate the opportunity to speak to you more about our work and how you can help. Please contact us at myra@footstepsresearchers.com to discuss how, together, we can preserve the deeply personal legacies of American heroes for generations to come.

With best regards,

Myra Miller Ph.D., Executive Director

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