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Through this page as well as through our social media accounts on Facebook and Twitter, we will keep you up-to-date on the most recent developments. Thus if you are interested in learning more about the project The Faces of Margraten, please come back to this page or follow our Facebook and Twitter accounts.

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Average age of U.S. soldiers buried and memorialized in Dutch town of Margraten was only 25

Published: Thursday, July 27 2023

A comprehensive study of the dates of birth and death of approximately 9,600 soldiers has finally resulted in an answer to one of the most poignant questions that visitors of the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten, the Netherlands, have: how old are the soldiers remembered here? Data from the Fields of Honor – Database reveals that, on average, these Americans were 25 years and one month old at the time of their death. 84 percent of all soldiers would never reach the age of 30. Two soldiers were only 17 years old. The Fields of Honor Foundation, which runs the database, collaborated with Tijs van der Aa for this study.
While it had been known that the average age of U.S. soldiers serving in World War II was 26, there had not yet been conducted a comprehensive study of the average age of the about 10,000 U.S. soldiers who are either buried or memorialized as missing in Margraten. “When Tijs reached out to us to ask permission for using our data, our volunteers immediately focused their research on the soldiers whose date of birth was still unknown. Like Tijs, we were curious to know what the average age was,” said the chairman of the foundation, Sebastiaan Vonk. Unlike other countries, the United States decided to not include either the soldier’s date of birth or age on the headstone, leaving visitors of American war cemeteries wondering about the soldier's age.
On his motivation to conduct this study, Tijs van der Aa said: “I have been fascinated by numbers my whole life. It is safe to say that they trigger my interest every day. For example, I regularly come across claims in the media, on social media, or from people around me that are not, or at least not fully accurate. Personally, I want to get the facts straight and thus will always look into the matter before commenting on something. The same goes for this, although it took me about 60 hours. But I love working with numbers and I am satisfied with the findings. I really think they add something valuable to everything we already know about the cemetery.”
New virtual monument
Even after conducting additional research, the foundation’s volunteers were unable to find a date of birth for about 400 soldiers. Done by exploring numerous sources, the research had been a time-consuming process. This was also true for gathering all dates of birth and death that had already been entered in the database. “This year marks the database’s 15th anniversary. Increasingly, we are confronted with the fact that the technology behind it is outdated. We are not even able to do something as simple as exporting all the dates of birth and death. An even bigger concern is that the software on which the database runs is no longer updated, which leaves this valuable source of information extremely vulnerable,” Vonk has said. “We have plans to build a new virtual monument to safeguard these stories, but we have not sufficient budget yet.” The foundation has launched a fundraising campaign in attempt to secure the money needed to make its plans become reality.
Key findings

  • The average age was 25 years and one month;
  • 9 percent of all soldiers was younger 20, 57 percent was younger than 25, and 84 percent was younger than 30;
  • Two soldiers were 17 years old. The youngest soldier was Paul M. Crane, who was only 17 years and 8 months old at the time of his death. Born on July 3, 1927, James G. Kennedy was the last one to be born. However, he was slightly older when he died;
  • Seven soldiers were born before 1900, in the 18th century. The oldest soldier was Perry Whitelock. He died at the age of 56;
  • 33 soldiers died on their own birthday;
  • Having been killed on May 4, 1942, Charles L. Summers was the first one te be killed. He was 24 at the time of his death.

8,500 soldiers now have a face

Published: Sunday, December 11 2022

Last weekend, a photo of U.S. soldier John C. Webb was found. He is one of the over 10,000 soldiers who are buried in or memorialized at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in Margraten, the Netherlands. Webb is the 8,500th soldier to whose name volunteers have been able to put a face. The search for the 1,400 photos that are still missing, which have proven to be the toughest cases, will continue.

Read more: 8,500 soldiers now have a face

Monument in print to appear in 2022

Published: Friday, December 03 2021
It is something that many of you have been asking us about lately. While it took a little longer than hoped for, we are excited that we can finally announce today that we have secured sufficient funding to publish the book "The Faces of Margraten: They will remain forever young" in English! We will now start working on translating the book, which will be coming to you in the second half of next year. We will have a definitive date for you once we send the manuscript to the publisher.

Read more: Monument in print to appear in 2022

The Faces not on display in 2021

Published: Friday, March 19 2021

This year again, the faces of the over 10,000 U.S. soldiers buried and remembered in the Dutch town of Margraten will not be on display at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial. For the second year in a row, the global COVID19 pandemic prevents The Faces of Margraten tribute from taking place. If not for COVID19, more than 8,000 photos would have been on display at the cemetery in May.

Read more: The Faces not on display in 2021

The Faces of Margraten tribute to be postponed until 2021

Published: Friday, March 20 2020

The biennial The Faces of Margraten tribute at the Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial in the Dutch town of Margraten will not take place this year. On the occasion of the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the Netherlands aimed to put a face to at least 7,500 of the 10,000 U.S. soldiers who are memorialized at the cemetery. The Dutch would decorate the graves and the names on the Walls of the Missing with personal photos of the soldiers to that end. However, because of the ongoing situation with COVID-19, it is believed to be in the interest of all to postpone the tribute and reschedule it in 2021.

Read more: The Faces of Margraten tribute to be postponed until 2021


Would you like to contribute to keeping the memory alive? By donating just 12.50 dollars, you will enable us to give a face to one soldier. You can directly donate 12.50 dollars via your credit card or PayPal by clicking the button below. Click here if you want to read more or donate another amount. Thank you for your support!