New York State Funeral Directors Association

I’ll never get to visit the final resting place of my relative, Royal Freeman Munger.

That’s because Royal, a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps during WWII,  went missing in action in March of 1945.

But thanks to detailed information available on the website of the American Battle Monuments Commission, I did learn there’s a memorial for war veterans with his name on it that I could visit.

Created in 1923, the ABMC builds and maintains cemeteries and memorials located abroad for members of the American armed forces.

There are more than 218,000 Americans buried – or  memorialized – on foreign soil.

Its website provides a detailed resource for people looking to learn more about their relatives who made the ultimate sacrifice for their country.

My first “American” ancestor came to the North American continent in the 1600s, so I consider pretty much all of those with my last name to be relatives.

This greatly expands the number of possible visits I’d have to make were I determined to pay my respects at all of the final resting places of my kin.

I won’t hold myself to this ambitious goal – and I can blame WWII for it.

The Second World War left five of my ancestors in various places around the globe.

Technically, two of them are still missing – but all of them are commemorated with a monument or memorial or buried in an honored cemetery overseas.

I learned this from the American Battle Monuments Commission.

HOW TO SEARCH

I simply searched my last name on the ABMC Burials and Memorializations Database.

But those who already know some details about their relative who was in World War II or another conflict can enter specific details.

In addition to name, you can search for a specific war: WWI, WWII, the Korean War, Vietnam and “Other.”

There are spaces for the date of death and status in terms of being Missing in Action, Buried at Sea or Recovered.

You can also enter the U.S. state from which your relative entered Military Service, add what service they joined, if they earned the Medal of honor or if they were a civilian.

WHAT YOU CAN LEARN

My relative Royal Freeman Munger, may he rest in peace, was a Captain in the U.S. Marine Corps.

He entered the service from the state of Illinois, and he’s listed as Missing in Action.Charles

I learned while writing this that he died in a plane crash.

All I needed was his name, which I got from the ABMC website.

He and the pilot, 1st Lt. William L. Crocker, took off on a flight on March 25, 1944 and crashed into the Pacific Ocean, about a half-mile from the northern shore of the Island they call Spiritu Santo – to the east of Australia.

We call this Vanuatu, now.

Royal and more than 18,000 other Americans are remembered at the National Memorial Cemetery of the Pacific in Honolulu, Hawaii.

He’s counted as one of about 83,000 Americans who went somewhere to fight and remain unaccounted for.

I suppose in my case, traveling to one foreign land to visit an ancestor isn’t too bad.

But five of my relatives who left the U.S. to go fight during World War II never made it back home:

  • Charles, an Army PFC, is buried at Lorraine American Cemetery in St. Avold, France.
  • Donald, a 2nd Lieutenant in the US Army Air Forces, is buried in Cambridge American Cemetery in the United Kingdom.
  • Leonard, a U.S. Navy Seaman 2nd Class from the Naval Reserve, is Missing in Action and remembered on the Walls of the Missing in the Manila American Cemetery in the Philippines.
  • Lyle, a PFC in the US Army, is buried in the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten, Netherlands.
  • And Royal Freeman Munger, the Marine Corps. Captain, is missing.

If you find one of your relatives, don’t miss out on this important feature that comes up in the blue box that opens when you click that relative’s name.

It’s a nice certificate you can download or print.

You’ll see a maroon box to the left of the service member’s details information that reads “Print Certificate.”

When you hit that box, a document appears. It’s a nice-looking certificate that says “In Memory Of” above your relative’s name.

It posts the veteran’s rank, the date they made the ultimate sacrifice and lists where they are buried.

Or, if they’re missing in action, it says where they are remembered.

These certificates all end with a quote from U.S. General John J. Pershing:

Time will not dim the glory of their deeds

 


 

EdsPhotoEdward Munger Jr.
Communications & Social Media Specialist
NYS Funeral Directors Association