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An Inspired Project Broadens Connections to Family


Like many who are interested in family history, Rebecca Mitchell had valuable records related to her father’s military service and the time she had spent with him some years after World War II.

Rebecca’s father, Lieutenant Colonel Russell Kelch, was an officer in the 951st Field Artillery Battalion. Many in Colonel Kelch’s unit had enlisted around the same time and followed each other from one duty assignment to the next, through the war and beyond. Rebecca had met many of them at reunions and knew that 613 men in the battalion had been among Allied forces who landed on Utah Beach in Normandy six days after the D-Day invasion in 1944. She also knew a few had spent time together as prisoners of war.

In 1994, Rebecca made a promise to her father to “be there” (for the unit) until the last man was down. She kept this promise dutifully and gathered the records for her father’s military unit as the official archivist.  

In 2020, Rebecca began to add to her father’s profile on FamilySearch.org. Since then she has also entered information for 175 men.  Of those men, many are her distant cousins.