Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Van Buren County in World War II [work in progress]

Van Buren County's WWII generation will be highlighted in a book project entitled Van Buren County in World War II, sponsored by the Van Buren Regional Genealogical Society (VBRGS).

Work on the project began in 2008, and it is an ambitious effort to document Van Buren County's participation in WWII, both at home and on the military fronts.   For those in military service, a wide variety of resources are being examined, extracted and merged together to form short biographies for any man or woman who served in a military capacity.  Some of the sources being consulted are:

  • All of the county's cemeteries were walked and WWII markers noted
  • All of the county's newspapers in publication during the war years are being read 
  • U.S. Army Enlistment Records
  • American Legion & VFW Post records
  • Southwest Michigan Military Registry
  • Public submissions
  • Obituaries & Feature Newspaper Articles
  • Wartime Correspondence
To date, the database consists of nearly 4,000 men & women from Van Buren County with service to the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Corps, Merchant Marines, or the Coast Guard.  Also included are some members of the allied forces who served from other countries and later moved to the area.  It is expected that there will be around 7,000 listings by the time the project is complete.

In order to illustrate the civilian sacrifice for the war cause, part of the project will talk about, just to name a few...:
  • Victory Gardens
  • Rationing of Commodities
  • Civil Defense
  • Drives for the collection of materials
  • Draft Boards
  • Organizations such as WWII Mothers
An important part of the book will be it's photographs.  Whenever possible, photos of military personnel will be included with the biographies.  

The book was originally scheduled to be released this year, but the project committee agrees that in the interest of completeness, they will not rush to meet that goal.  A new release date will be announced in the near future.  The painstaking efforts that are being taken on this project will no doubt make it an authority regarding WWII era Van Buren County history, and will likely set the standard for similar publications in the future.

Military personnel for consideration must have lived in Van Buren County at some time in their life, not exclusively during wartime.  They may have been born here, buried here or have resided in the county later in life. 

If you would like to submit information, a photograph, or a name for the Van Buren County in World War II book project, contact VBRGS or visit the website

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