Wednesday, December 28, 2016

9 Questions About the WW2 Fallen 100 Project

1. What is the purpose of the WW2 Fallen 100 project? More than 400,000 Americans lost their lives while serving in the military during WW2. Our nation had one-third of the current population back then, so comparably that would be like seeing 1,200,000 war casualties in our day. That would be a big deal now. We should recognize that it was a big deal then and time should not diminish the impact. Because these fallen never came home, they missed enjoying the peace they won. The Freedom Wall at the World War 2 Memorial helps us honor these men and women as a group, but I think they deserve some individual recognition. So each day I plan to profile one of the fallen on his/her 100th birthday.

2. How did you get interested in starting this project? I've had an interest in history that goes back to early childhood. During elementary school, I was attracted to biographies. I remember reading youth biographies of Paul Revere, George Washington, Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln and others. While still in grade school, I saw the movie Patton and wanted to learn more. The movie was based on the book A Soldier's Story by Omar Bradley. Even though it was not written for grade schoolers, I checked it out of the library anyway and read the whole thing. I went on to read Cornelius Ryan's books The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far. Over the decades, I would guess that I have read at least half-a-dozen books each year that cover WW2 subjects. With the 75th anniversary of American's involvement in WW2 occurring over the next 4 years, it seemed like this would be a fun project to create.

3. Is there a connection between the fallen and any current generation? The generation that did most of the fighting was born between 1901 and 1924. In the book The Fourth Turning by William Strauss and Neil Howe, the authors identify this group as a Hero Generation. Strauss and Howe see history as occurring in cycles of four generations. The circle has come around again and those currently identified as the Millennial Generation are also Hero Generation. Will they leave a similar legacy as this previous Hero Generation?

4.  How do you decide which of the fallen get profiled? I can't be certain, but between January 1, 2017 and September 2, 2020, the time frame for this project, I would guess that there will be at least one WW2 death that occurred among those born 100 years earlier to the day. The U.S. Veterans Gravesites database and other databases such as the World War II and Korean Conflict Veterans Interred Overseas database are a good place to start. After that more information can be found from census records and the U.S. Find A Grave Index. I plan to select profiles from all branches of the military. 

5. How long will the project last? It will start on January 1, 2017 and continue until September 2, 2020, the 75th anniversary of the end of WW2.

6. Do you have a personal connection to the WW2 fallen? My wife's uncle served in the army during the last year of the war. He died in the Philippines in an plane crash. He was only 20 years old. He never had a chance to raise a family of his own.

7. What do you do when you are not working on this project? I would have preferred to be a history teacher, but teachers are woefully paid, so history is my hobby, not my vocation. For a vocation, I am a banker. I am a married father of six and grandfather of 9. I am an avid reader, nearly always nonfiction. I also enjoy writing. Back in the 90's I wrote a Alistair MacLean / Tom Clancy-esque thriller about how the Japanese with the help of Germany tried to attack America with an atomic bomb in 1945. In the tradition of The Guns of Navarone and Where Eagles Dare, a special forces team goes behind enemy lines to stop it. Random House considered it for publication back then, but decided not too. I will probably look into getting it published at some point in the future.

8. Can anyone propose names to profile in the project? Yes. for 2017, if you know any of the WW2 fallen who were born in 1917, let me know and I will schedule to profile them. Email me at

9. How can I keep up with WW2 Fallen 100? Join the Facebook group, WW2 Fallen 100. Follow on Twitter @ww2fallen100. Follow this blog. I would like to see support grow over time. At this early date, there are 15 Twitter followers so we have squad level support. The next level would be platoon level support which would be 40+ people engaged via this blog, Facebook, or Twitter. 

Please pass on news of this new blog to those who you think would enjoy it.

Don Milne
Bountiful, Utah
December 28, 2016


To mark having over 100,000 visits to my project to honor the fallen of WW2 on their 100th birthdate, I created this video to share.

Don Milne
Bountiful, Utah
May 19, 2017

Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Earn This

In Steven Spielberg's heartfelt homage to the greatest generation, Saving Private Ryan, the mortally wounded Captain Miller's dying words to Private Ryan are, "Earn this."

Miller was a fictional character, but there were more than 400,000 American military who did lose their lives during World War 2. With the recent milestone marking the 75th anniversary of the attack on Pearl Harbor, attention is being given to the dwindling number of WW2 vets, many approaching 100 years old and some already past the century mark. These honored veterans are the first to acknowledge that they were the lucky ones. They left behind friends who never made it past their twenties, much less had a chance to see their hundredth birthday.

America has its faults, but it is still the greatest nation on God's green earth. Had America not entered World War 2, east Asia would have become slave states to a ruthless Japan. Europe would have either remained in Nazi control or the Soviet Union would have defeated Germany by itself and the continent would have come under communist domination. The world we know would be very different.

Instead, the poverty that was all too common to these WW2 fallen during the Great Depression is now very rare. For the most part, we live in homes that these fallen would never dream of. We have home comforts that we take for granted. Most of us will reach retirement age and of those who live this long, many will live to see that 100 year birthday.

The fallen did not make it. But because of their sacrifice, we've really had it made. They helped give us the America too many of us take for granted.

I would like to honor these fallen, and do so individually, so we can, to quote Lincoln, "take increased devotion to that cause for which they gave the last full measure of devotion."

My goal is beginning on January 1, 2017, to profile one man or woman each day who would have been 100 years old that day, had they not lost their lives serving America during World War 2.

These are the first week of fallen that I will profile:

1-1-20171-1-19173-20-1945Berdinski, Stanley
1-2-20171-2-19172-28-1945North, James U
1-3-20171-3-19172-18-1944Beavers, Thurman S
1-4-20171-4-19176-11-1944Lebens, Harold P
1-5-20171-5-19176-12-1944Benway, Oscar E
1-6-20171-6-191712-3-1944Noble, W O
1-7-20171-7-19175-13-1945Gillis, Marian C

Have we "earned this"?

Your thoughts?

Follow on twitter @ww2fallen100
Join WW2 Fallen 100 Facebook group