Dan W Means was her Great Uncle.
We wanted to share our story with you about the adoption of Dan W Means and his crew members. We will try to tell you how everything went and how the meeting with Megan, the daughter of Mindy Means Kettner was.
It all started on the 1st of March, Gerda, my wife, was searching for information of our other adopted soldiers. We have 2 other soldiers of a bomb group adopted.
When she was searching for information she found on a forum the call from Mindy, she asked there for information of her uncle Dan W Means. You also put a reaction on the forum we have seen.
Gerda decided to help Mindy and started a search for Dan W Means. She sends the information to Mindy and told her about our other adopted soldiers, Mindy was so happy hearing from us but also was curious or the grave of her uncle was adopted. We promised her to find out.
We already had a list from August 2008 from the Ardennes War Cemetery from the non-adopted soldiers. On the list where Dan W Means, Raymond Rhodes and Britt D Maxwell Jr.
So we made some phone calls and send some e-mails around and then found that Dan W Means his grave was not adopted, also we saw that there where another 3 crew members buried on the Ardennes War Cemetery.
Mindy send us a lot of pictures of her uncle and we where so touched by this and her uncle Dan W Means got a special place in our hearts, that we decide that we would adopt his grave but also the graves of Raymond R Rhodes and Britt D Maxwell Jr. They told us first that the grave of Lincoln S Ricker already was adopted.
We wanted all them to adopt, because our feeling was that they where together when they died so they now also should stay together.
When we made the first visit at the Cemetery the superintendent Mike Green had a surprise for us, he had arranged that we also could adopt the grave of Lincoln S Ricker, we where so happy with that news, finally they where together again.
It was so special the first time when we where there, we took flowers for the graves and when we arrived by the grave of 1Lt Dan W Means and our daughter Denise lay down the flowers with his grave the music TAPS started to play, it was so special and emotional. We all dropped some tears at that moment.
When we got home we quickly send Mindy an e-mail with that news, she was so thrilled to hear that.
In the meanwhile we had made a search for other family members of the crew and we found very quickly the son of Robert P Lyons, his name is Mike. We still have contact with him and share every information we have with each other. Mindy was so happy again and surprised to hear that and was wondering how we did that.
The days where counting down until Megan was coming to the Cemetery and we search for the other families and we were successfully in it, we located the niece of Lincoln S Ricker, her name is Denise. Also we located the brother of Britt D Maxwell Jr, his name is William. Also we found the niece of Raymond R Rhodes, her name is Judy.
From all of them we received pictures of their family member who was in the plane, we told them about the meeting and all of them made it possible that we had the pictures before we where going to meet Megan at the Cemetery, we where so thrilled that we did it.
All of the family members where so happy to hear from us and so thankful, but to everyone we told that we should be thankful. Their family member gave his live for our freedom and thatís why we decided to join the adoption program and we are very proud that we can do this for all of these men and their family.
We surprised Mindy also with the Missing Air Crew Report, with the help from some friends we were able to receive it very quickly, with that information we did some more research and send some e-mails to Hamm, Germany. There we found a police a man who was in the time that the plane crashed in duty. Heís doing research for us also so we hope to learn more with the help from him.
Then it finally was the 18th of April, the day was there we would go and meet Megan.
It was very special when we where there, Mindy gave some presents to Megan to give to us and they had beautiful caps for us. They have the white colour and on the front is an image of a B-24, on the left side is the name of their uncle Dan W Means and on the right side is in red letters the 491st. Really beautiful.
Also they had a lot of gifts for our daughter Denise, she was also very happy with the gifts.
We also brought some gifts for them; we had some photo lists with the pictures of our first visit at the grave of their uncle Dan W Means. One for Megan and one for Mindy, also we had one large lists with the certificate of adoption in it, it really looked beautiful.
Then the moment was there, together we walked to the reception of the Cemetery and unfortunally the superintendent Mike Green was not there, he had the weekend of and he was very busy at the time because he just started working at this beautiful Cemetery.
It was mister Joris who took us to the graves of the crew.
Before the 18th of April we had a lot of contact with the superintendent Mike Green and we told him about the visit of Megan, the family member of Dan W Means, when a family member usually visits a grave they do some special things for them, we did not told anything to Megan or Mindy, it should be a surprise and it was.
We asked the superintendent or it was possible to do their special things for all the crewmembers because Megan would visit them all, he told us it would be no problem, we where honoured by that.
Then the moment was there and we walked at first to the grave of Dan W Means, the flags of The United States of America and of Belgium where already by the graves, it really looked beautiful. That is one of the things they do for family members.
Then mister Joris took out a can out of his bag, in this can was sand. The sand comes from Omaha Beach, Normandy France. With this sand they rub in the name on the cross. This they only do for family members. It was amazing to see how beautiful it looked and Megan was really surprised to see that.
We took a lot of pictures and Megan also brought a little flag from The United States of America and put it by the grave of her great uncle. Also she had some flowers with her and lay them down by the grave.
We also had flowers with us for all of the crewmembers and also we took some vases to put the flowers in, when both of the flowers where in the vase in really looked beautiful, we felt that Dan W Means was being honoured as it should be. It was so touching and we had the honour to be there together with Megan, a family member of Dan W Means.
We stayed a long time by the grave of Dan W Means and took a picture of us all together.
Then and then left Megan and her boyfriend Michael alone for a moment by the grave, so they had their moment alone with her great uncle.
We walked then to the grave of Raymond R Rhodes, mister Joris already had rubbed in the name with the sand and we put the vase with the flowers by the grave of Raymond. Of course we took a lot of pictures of these moments to share them with the families. Megan and Michael joined us then so they also could take some pictures.
Then we went to the grave of Britt D Maxwell Jr. The name already was rubbed in and the vase with the flowers where put down by the grave, it was so amazing to see at the Cemetery. Just 4 graves where the flags where and where the names where rubbed in with this special sand, amazing. All of us took a lot of pictures and made sure that these brave men where honoured on this special day in a special way.
Then we walked to the grave of Lincoln S Ricker, also with his grave where the flags and the name rubbed in with the sand. When we had put down the vase with the flowers we have taken pictures.
Then there was a surprise, the superintendent Mike Green came on the Cemetery, he was dressed in uniform to welcome Megan. It was so special and we where so thankful he was able to get there, Megan also was really impressed by the visit of him.
He took Megan and Michael with him and started telling them about the Cemetery and slowly we walked to the monument of the Cemetery.
Mister Green told us he would start the music of the Cemetery, Then the National Anthem of the United States of America started to play, it was really special to be there at this moment. After the National Anthem the Last Post started to play and everybody was touched by this moment. It was a tribute to all of the soldiers of the Cemetery and now special played for the great uncle of Megan Dan W Means and his crew, so special. We all got the chills of it and the tears where also there at that moment, so amazing.
Then we went inside of the monument of the Cemetery, there are maps on the wall of how the World War 2 has gone in that time, all the big battles where on the wall and they look so beautiful. The superintendent told us a lot about it and we where all impressed of it.
The superintendent then told Megan that she was allowed to take the flags who where at the grave of her great uncle home and he told us we could walk over the Cemetery again and take some time for ourselves, but we should come to the reception before we would leave the Cemetery.
We visit again all the graves of the crew. Suddenly the superintendent came back, he was coming to say goodbye, and he was going home. He talked a while again with Megan and told her he was proud that he was able to meet her. He then saluted her before he left, so touching that moment.
Slowly we then walked to the reception talking to each other. We had to tell so much to each other and we told Megan that we located the other family members also, also we told her about the pictures and that she would receive them later on the day, we already told this to the superintendent and promised him that he would receive the pictures to.
When we came at the reception mister Joris was there and he had a map for Megan about the visit and some documents for her about her uncle Dan W Means.
We thanked him for the day and we all decided that we would go to a cafe because we got thirst and we would like to drink some coffee.
So we drove to a cafe and we took our map where our research was in, we showed it to Megan and she was impressed by it, one thing was really funny. In our research for the MACR we send an e-mail to the pentagon, we received information from them of the MACR and I was telling to Megan when she was reading the MACR that one page we received from our friends at the pentagon, she was laughing and also impressed what we all did for this research. We stayed for a while in the cafe but then it was sadly enough to say goodbye, all of us had to drive home. We looked forward to this day and unfortunally the day was so quickly over, but it was a beautiful day.
At this moment we are still searching for more information and everything we think is interesting, we use. Also we are trying to locate the families of the other crewmembers. We hope to find them.
This all is so special to us, when we receive information, stories and pictures from the families, and it is like a journey back in time for us. Learning more from them is so special to us.
We will make sure in our way that these men and our other adopted soldiers never will be forgotten.