My family hasn't spoken with my great uncle's side of the family in quite awhile. I could be wrong on this, but the last time they all spoke might have been when my grandpa (my great uncle's brother) passed away in 2004. So it goes without saying that we're not super close.
I never met my great uncle James, that I can remember at least. The only memory of him I have is going to the funeral home when he passed away in the late 80s, early 90s.
But I need to find out as much information about him and his tour during WW II as possible. Not just because I'm curious and think this would be a great way to learn about some of my roots and connect with family, but the more information I can provide OBON 2015 about where my great uncle possibly picked up the flag would greatly help them in their search.
The other day my mom gave me a phone number to reach out to my cousin Jim, James's son. So during a break at work one day I mustered up the courage and gave him a call. While the phone rang, I wondered what the hell I was going to say to him and hoped things wouldn't get awkward, as I'm not always the best conversationalist. My sister got the gift of gab gene, not me.
After a handful of rings, the phone picked up, and I was greeted with the sound of a fax machine. I had called a freaking fax machine!!! Obviously it didn't have any answers. So I hung up a little bummed, yet relieved at the same time.
I also had the number to a military museum, so I gave them a call. Some older man picked up, and I told him my story and asked what would be the best way to find out about my great uncle.
"Well, I'd start by doing an Internet search," he said.
I don't know if I sounded like a third grader learning how to do research for the first time, if he simply thought I was a complete moron or if I was getting Punk'd, but his answer wasn't helpful. At the risk of getting another obvious answer, I asked a few more questions, and he pointed me to the National Archives in St. Louis. Okay, so maybe that answer was obvious, but the thought never crossed my mind. Over the weekend I'm going to fill out the the Standard Form 180, which is the paperwork to request my great uncle's military records. It will be interesting to see what I can dig up.
In the mean time, I'm going to try and call my cousin again. As I was writing this post, I was looking my cousin's number up online and comparing it to the one that I punched into my phone the other. Somewhere along the line two numbers got switched around. Which is a relief, because that would be weird having a fax machine for a cousin.