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The story behind Spanish Fork’s 7 missing veterans

Mar 05, 2020 06:10PM ● By Ed Helmick

One story often leads to another. After learning how the American Legion Post #68 came to recognize seven Spanish Fork Military Service members who never came home after World War II, Serve Daily wants to tell story of the lady who did the research.

Spanish Fork resident Angela Beecher has two uncles, one from her mother’s side and one from her father’s side who were classified Missing in Action. Her great uncle was a Japanese prisoner of war on the transport ship the Arisan Maru which was torpedoed by a U.S. Navy submarine resulting in the loss of 1,772 POWs. This kind of family loss was common during WWII with the United States involved in wars in Europe and the Pacific.

Last year Angela’s family was contacted by the Defense MIA/POW Accounting Agency requesting a DNA sample for her dad’s brother, Glen Bodrero. It was originally thought that his airplane went down in the ocean, but it is now believed that wreckage of his airplane has been found in a mountain range in the Philippines. After attending a family update for MIA families, Beecher gave herself an assignment to research MIA soldiers from Utah and locate their memorials.

Last Memorial Day Angela and her daughter visited 17 cemeteries in Utah and placed a MIA/POW flag and red carnation on head stones. They found that many of those solders do not have memorials here in Utah and some of their names are only mentioned on foreign soil. Angela’s research work identified seven WWII solders, airmen, and sailors from Spanish Fork. Her next-door neighbor is David Johnson, Commander of American Legion Post #68, who thought it would be wonderful to hold an event to honor the seven who did not return home to Spanish Fork. It was a wonderful event and we appreciate the research and commitment of a lady who “serves us daily.” (Helmick is a Serve Daily contributor.)