It all started with my grandma Bertha. Between 1946-1948, when she was in her twenties, she adopted the grave of one of her liberators. The Netherlands American Cemetery at Margraten was still in its old shape and on a little card it told her U-5-110, S/Sgt Benjamin S. Hynoski. She always told her children, including my mother, that she did it to do something 'small' back to their liberators. She ocassionaly went to see his grave but with the years he was 'forgotten'.
Lost and found
Some years after the death of my grandma, i think around 2001, i asked my mother about 'the soldier' she once told us about. It took some days for my mother to remember but she finally came up with the name Hynoski. With the intention to re-adopt his grave i went to Margraten. There i was told that the adoption of the grave was still registered to Bertha Claassens, better known to me as Grandma Bertha.
Who was S/Sgt Hynoski?
I wanted to know more about Ben and about his unit. As someone who was interested in World War 2 i knew about some infantry divisions, but i never heard of the 83rd. From the IDPF i retrieved that Ben was killed while serving in E/331st near the Erft Canal. Using the Thunderbolt Message Board of Dave Curry i posted a message and got in contact with Tom. His father in law, PFC Frank DeCarolis, was a runner for Co. E / 2nd Platoon on the 2nd of March. Tom found, by some miracle, a duty roster of Co. E / 2nd Platoon from the 2nd of March, listing S/Sgt Ben as squad leader for 3rd Sqd.
With the After Action reports and the book 'We Saw It Through' i managed to find the location at which the 2nd Battalion, 331st resided on the 2nd of March. The AARs proved to be very valuable and i started to see the importance of these files to be available to the general public.
After Action Reports
At the end of November 2008, Dave Curry sent an email to the 83rd Google Group stating that he finished scanning the after action reports for the 329th and that he put the AARs on a CDROM. He said that he could make some copies of the CDROM for the 329th veterans and descendants but he wanted to oursource the copying to other members of the 83rd Association to offload work for him because copying is a lot of work.
As a kid who grew up with the digital age I knew that sending around an already deceased medium (CDROMs) would not help spreading the documents very fast so i offered to help out by putting the documents online. That way everyone with interest in the 83rd and its outfits could find the documents online and browse them for their own use.
I contacted Dave and offered to setup a website and host the documents that Dave scanned to digital files. I registered the domain 83rdinfdivdocs.org and setup a small website. Dave sent me a CDROM with the documents of the 329th and November 30, 2008 an announcement was made to the Google Group that the documents were online. We started out with the AARs for the infantry regiments and by the end of 2008 we had all the AARs for the 329th, 330th and about half for the 331st online.
This success encouraged me to encourage Dave and others to scan in the documents that are still out there. This resulted in more AARs and other documents such as Operation Reports, Unit Journals and maps to be added to the website. Personal accounts, such as the ones from Capt. John. D. Raikos and the paper `Sharpe's Battalion in World War II` from Lt. Col. Sharpe have proven to be very valuable documents. All these documents are important to next-of-kin, researchers and other people who are interested in those times.
Present and future
The current status is that the website serves as a starting point for many people who want to know or research anything on the subject of the 83rd Infantry Division during World War 2. It is also a dedication to the men of the 83rd that gave their future for our freedom so that they may never be forgotten. I would like to ask everyone who has documents, whether they are reports, personal diaries, stories or pictures and is willing to share them to contact me at . Tips and or remarks can also be sent there.
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