After spending three years searching for the stories of Oklahoma soldiers who died overseas in World War I and World War II, Oklahoman Michael Beach is branching out to look for 1,200 stories around the United States and its territories.
Beach spent six months traveling through 23 cemeteries and placing the Oklahoma state rock, the rose rock, on more than 2,000 graves of Oklahoma soldiers.
“Everything started when I visited a Normandy cemetery and walked up to an Oklahoman’s grave. I gave him a rose rock and found about 20 others that day. When I went back, I visited the 144 Oklahoma soldiers in the cemetery and gave all of them a rose rock,” Beach said.
“Once I had made it to each of the cemeteries, the thought of going home was washed away and I worked at finding the soldiers. It was hard work but I realized that if I didn’t do this that no one would and these men would not have a piece of Oklahoma with them.”
Upon returning home, Beach began his search for the stories of these fallen men in order to share them with the cemeteries where their bodies rest.
So far, Beach has gathered about 50 stories, some only partially complete, of WWI and WWII members of the military from Oklahoma.
And he now is in the process of looking for stories of soldiers from other states.
“I have decided to find one story from each state for each of the 23 cemeteries located overseas and in Hawaii,” he said.
Of the 117 Hawaiians buried or listed overseas, five of them are in Normandy Cemetery, yet this cemetery, which is the most visited, has no stories of Hawaii soldiers, said Beach.
The stories Beach collects will be shared with each soldier’s cemetery so others visiting the sites can hear the tales and histories of these honorable men.
Beach is looking for copies of photos, letters, family stories, information about the soldier’s life and even history of the area during the time the soldiers lived there.
Anyone with any information about a soldier buried overseas, can contact Beach by visiting www.apieceofhomeusa.com to arrange a digital transfer.
Information can also be sent by mail to: Michael Beach, P.O. Box 582, Maysville, OK 73057.
Anyone with information also can communicate with Beach via Facebook by visiting www.facebook.com/groups/apieceofhome.