Searching for the Missing, Decades Later–Two Books by Kenneth Breaux

Recently I’ve read two books about families, similar to my own, needing to find out what happened to a loved one who was lost during WWII. Those losses leave a hole for decades, affecting several generations. Kenneth Breaux has written two compelling books about poignant searches and their outcomes.

Courtesies of the Heart

The Book: The author takes the reader on a compelling odyssey, beginning with a wartime mystery which endured for nearly sixty years. A compelling and often gripping story of loss and discovery.

The Author: Kenneth Breaux graduated from the University of Louisiana at Lafayette in 1966 and was commissioned as a Naval Officer that same year. After leaving active duty, he served on a variety of vessels and concluded his career as commanding officer of a Reserve Training Group with the rank of Commander. He has worked as a corporate training developer, planning and project manager and is retired from EDS Corp.

He holds an MBA from Pepperdine University and has attended the Naval War College. In retirement he created a not-for-profit company, the M.I.A. Recovery Network, which serves as a focal point for identification and recovery of the 74,000 remaining missing in action from World War II and advocating for families of the missing. He is the author of two other books, Courtesies of the Heart, the history of an MIA recovery, and Transforming! How Managers Become Leaders.

My Thoughts: A P-51 pilot is lost in Germany but not located by the Americans for decades. He left a widow and a baby daughter, who feels his absence her whole life. The area where he fell became part of East Germany, so was inaccessible for decades. But one local man buried his remains and cared for the grave for years. This is the amazing story of how several people, speaking three different languages, eventually became a “society of the heart” through the internet and in person. The P-51 pilot’s remains are brought home for a military burial. Just incredible.

Known But to God: America’s 20th Century Wars and the Search for the Missing

also by Kenneth Breaux

The Book: There are many books written about epic battles, heroic soldiers and the remarkable events that occur during a war. This book contains little of that history. This book is about the more than 70,000 men who remain missing after America’s wars. Their names appear in our cemeteries, on gravestones marked “unknown,” on commemorative walls listing the missing or simply in after-action reports inadequate to the task of declaring a life at an end. Americans are sensitive to the injustice and incompleteness of such records. So, the United States is the only country publicly committed to searching for missing warriors’ remains and to identifying and finally honoring them. This commitment has been inconsistently fulfilled, however, and results have been mixed. This book shows how modern warfare loses its dead in ways that make them harder than ever to find after battle. It tells the story of families who never give up hope and of the volunteers and officials who try to help them. But it’s also the story of how our government too often has failed to make finding the missing possible — and what we can do about it.

My Thoughts: This important book includes chapters on the history of how US war casualties were taken care of, providing overseas cemeteries beginning with WWI. Several stories describe locating old burial grounds and the work to identify the missing. Some are never solved. One especially poignant was of a site that ended up in East Germany, where Americans weren’t allowed to even search. The Bibliography and Appendices are especially helpful.

Please visit Kenneth Breaux’s Amazon Author Page.


    • Bless you, Nancy. Another he’d enjoy is Steve Snyder’s “Shot Down: The true story of pilot Harold Snyder and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth. Steve’s dad survived but some crew members did not. Steve got caught up in learning what happened to them, and even visiting some of the places with his dad.

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