Four Questions for Robert Laplander of Finding the Lost Battalion and Doughboy MIA
"No man's or woman's sacrifice in the cause of freedom should ever be forgotten"
By Chris Isleib
Director of Public Affairs, U.S. World War One Centennial Commission
Historian and author Robert Laplander has been very busy. He just released the third edition of his first book on WWI's "Lost Battalion", he is working on a new book about that unit's Commander, Charles Whittlesey, and he has been involved with the highly-anticipated PBS/American Experience series THE GREAT WAR. In addition to all that, Robert has been doing deep research with his "Doughboy MIA" section of the WW1 Centennial Commission web site, working to account for the World War I casualties who are still listed as 'Missing'. We caught up with Robert recently to get a full update.
We have not heard from you in some time. Tell us about your various projects related to The Lost Battalion, Doughboy MIA, etc.
Doughboy MIA is doing well. We've submitted a report late last year to the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) on a name that looks to have appeared on the list twice, and the wheels are turning on that right now. It also looks like, thanks to a reader who cares, that we've got a Navy fellow who was lost at sea very early in the war who was never placed on the list or commemorated on any of the Walls of the Missing in the cemeteries overseas or here at home. We're making our double checks now on that case before we submit it to the ABMC for consideration. And we're wrapping up the last bits on the case of a 1st Division sergeant whose remains went unlocated following the war that we've been investigating for about a year now. This is for the 1st Division Museum in Illinois. It looks as if there is the possibility that we might be able to locate him using some of today's technology. The initial report will be submitted on that early next week and at the beginning of April I will be consulting with a soil expert on the use of some of these technologies as per this case and possible others.
So the wheels are turning at Doughboy MIA, though necessarily slowly. We still have not been able to locate the paperwork relating to the Unknowns buried overseas. Readers are encouraged to contact us if they think they may have an idea where that stuff might be, though be advised that we've combed through the 'low hanging fruit' a long while ago, so what we're looking for isn't going to be in obvious places listed online. Remember: a man is only missing if he is forgotten.
As for the Lost Battalion, many readers know that I am the author of Finding the Lost Battalion: Beyond the Rumors, Myths and Legends of America's Famous WW1 Epic. On Saturday, February 18th we released a 3rd edition; an updated version of the book in commemoration of the 100th anniversary of America's entry into the war. This was at Military History Fest in Chicago and it was very well received. As you know, the book is considered 'the bible' of the Lost Battalion and has garnered much success over the last 11 years since it's initial release. The really big news though is that two things tie the book to the Commission - first, we are proud to announce that for every copy of the book sold through the official website (www.findingthelostbattalion.com) or the publisher's website (www.lulu.com) we are donating $2.00 to the fund for building the national WW1 Memorial at Pershing Park in Washington, DC (offer excludes eBooks - sorry!).