Four years ago Michael Beach began searching for the stories of the Oklahoma soldiers who are buried overseas. Recently, however he began the search for as many of the stories as he could find of soldiers from all around the United States.
Beach began his journey with a visit to all 23 American cemeteries located around the world where the soldiers from his state are buried. He spent six months traveling through Europe, North Africa, the Philippines and Hawaii. where he placed over 2,000 Oklahoma rose rocks at the graves of the 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 twenty 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 shared.
Beach talked about the struggles he had along the way, from having to dig up the rose rocks himself, to having very little food to eat. On several occasions I wanted to walk away from my journey and come back home. I had very little money and my feet were so badly blistered because of walking that I shouldn’t have been walking but I had to, so I could get my journey accomplished,” said Beach.
“On the days I didn’t have a host to stay with, I would have an apple or orange for breakfast and for supper pasta and tomato paste. I would also camp with a tent and a sleeping bag I had on my backpack to save money,” said Beach about the struggles on his journey.
“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.”
After he returned home he began his search for the stories of the 3,000 Oklahoma soldiers. However he soon found road block after roadblock in his way to gathering the stories of these amazing soldiers.
“All too many times I have had family members tell me, ‘I wish I had known about this a year ago because my mom was alive and she knew everything about my uncle buried overseas.’”
So far Beach has gathered around fifty stories, some only partially complete, of WWI and WWII members of the military from Oklahoma. Beach is now 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. I know that if the stories are fading here in Oklahoma, they are fading all around the US.”
The stories that Beach collects will be shared with each soldier’s cemetery so that others passing through them 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.
Information can also be sent by mail to: Michael Beach, P.O. Box 582, Maysville, OK 73057