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Stories Behind the Stars: Volunteers in San Diego help with nationwide storytelling effort of World War II's fallen

Stories Behind the Stars is an effort to share the 421,000 stories of the Americans who died in World War II.

SAN DIEGO — More than 400,000 Americans died in World War II and not all of their stories have been told, a Utah man wanted to change that.

With the help of volunteers from San Diego and all over the country, they are writing stories of the fallen.

There is not a full public list of the Americans who died fighting in WWII but now there is an effort to not only find their names but share their stories behind the stars.

“We want to remember those who served. It’s a lot richer experience if we remember something about them and it seeing a name on a gravestone,” said Don Milne, Stories Behind the Stars founder.

Milne got to work and in his former job as a banker spent his lunch break researching the fallen but realized he wouldn't be able to do it all himself.

“Cause I don't have 1,100 years and that is how long it would take if you did one story a day,” said Milne.

He founded Stories Behind the Stars, a nonprofit that will be the only single website to have the stories of the 421,000 WWII fallen.

With the help of genealogy sites and military cemeteries, Stories Behind the Stars has grown to 1,500 volunteers in all 50 states and more than a dozen countries.

“Unless our volunteers find these stories, where else are you going to find these stories?” said Milne.

One of those volunteers is retired U.S. Naval Commander Kevin McIntire who searches for the Greatest Generation from his Fallbrook home.

“World War II is a moment in our history that defines us, and it's because of that we are here today,” said McIntire.

He helped complete the stories of the 2,502 Americans who died in Normandy on D-Day now they are working to complete the stories of the more than 2,000 Pearl Harbor fallen for the 80th anniversary this December 7.

“I don't know if a lot of people understand the sacrifice,” said McIntire.

This past May, McIntire said he was out in Fallbrook and met a Vietnam veteran. They got to talking about the horrors of the war and that man mentioned his father, LCDR Roger Louis Germain Alaux, who served in the Navy in WWII as a surface warfare officer and died from a kamikaze attack on the USS Terror (CM-5) during the battle of Okinawa. McIntire got in touch with his brother, the family historian, and they were able to correspond and build an accurate profile of Alaux.

To ensure their stories are not forgotten, more volunteers are needed. They've written 13,000 stories behind the stars but there are 408,000 more to go.

“If we had 2,000 people that wanted to help out and do one story a week we could write the stories of all 421,000 American who died in WWII in a four-year period,” said Milne.

Stories Behind the Stars is also launching a smartphone app so when you are at a cemetery or come across the name of the fallen you can read their story.

If you would like to volunteer for Stories Behind the Stars, it only takes about two to three hours to write a story about a WWII fallen. Click here for more information.

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