The Internet is sometimes an amazing place. It seems that, with just the right terms and a compatible search engine, you can find almost anything.
Almost, I say, because there are still large swaths of this world that have yet to be digitized. Everything from older obituaries to military records is among those huge stacks of information yet to be transformed to a publicly-accessible form online.
And so, in this project to remember such a small number of World War II veterans—those who signed their name, stating that they endured boot camp in the Navy with my father-in-law, Frank Stevens of Chicago—the last four of Frank’s twelve friends will have to remain unsung heroes.
Whether it is owing to common names (I didn’t think so) or indistinguishable handwriting (I thought I got it right!) or the talent of remaining invisible, these four men will remain a mystery until someone from their families stumbles upon the chance to leave a comment here to guide us further.
I did find one shred of evidence for one of the men—a possible 1930 US Census record for Stewart MacIntyre of Chicago. As for fellow Chicago residents Raymond R. Schultz and Harold Hinz, I found nothing online. With a couple afternoon’s time spent posting queries to several genealogy forums, I’ll have to leave the search at that.
As for the last man on the list, it was a handwriting issue that kept me stumped. Yet, today, in taking one last close look at the original signatures, I wondered if the name wasn’t Fred La Norce as I had once supposed, but actually Fred La Force. On the back of that 1942 Navy photograph, he had given his hometown as Winter Park, Florida, and there did happen to be a Fred LaForce living in Florida in the 1990s. Perhaps the change from that initially-mistaken spelling will yield some results in this search.
Or, perhaps they won’t.
Whether we ever end up knowing much more about these twelve men—and especially those un-findable last four—one thing is certain: they have our gratitude for their years of service on behalf of our country in World War II.