This year is the 50th Anniversary of the U.S. Peace Corps, the famous "toughest job you'll ever love." Since President Kennedy created the Corps in 1961 nearly 200,000 volunteers have served in 139 countries. This number includes myself and my wife, with both of us serving in Thailand.
However, not all of these volunteers returned home. As documented by the non-profit Fallen Peace Corps Volunteers Memorial Project, 279 of these volunteers gave their lives while pursuing the Peace Corps mission. The accounting of these volunteers is listed here.
The problem, though, is there's little or no personal information for many of the volunteers listed on the memorial. The is especially true of PCVs who died in the program's early years.
So here's what I'm asking: Will you join me in tracking down information on these fallen volunteers? Simply go through the list of fallen volunteers and find someone without any information on their entry. These deaths would have been in the newspapers at the time, meaning there are news reports we can locate using online databases. Or perhaps you know the family or friends of these volunteers, who might share some information for the memorial.
What We Are Looking For
- Scans and summaries of news reports
- Personal accounts from the volunteers' family and friends
- Scans of letters and other artifacts
If only a few hundred people pledge to search for information on these fallen volunteers, we will soon fill the memorial pages. I have been in contact with Donna Mack of the FPCV Memorial Project and she supports this data collection effort. Donna's son Jeremiah Mack was a PCV who died in Niger in 1997.
Please help spread the word about this.
Where to Send Information
If anyone finds information or photos, please feel free to send it to the FPCV Memorial Project through their contact page. If the information is contained in attachments or scanned documents which you can't send through the contact page, feel free to email those files to me. I will then pass them on to the project.
I should also note that FPCV will be taking part in the upcoming 50th Anniversary events in Washington D.C., with an Arlington National Cemetery presentation and wreath laying scheduled for September 25th of this year. The families of all fallen PCVs are invited to attend. For more information, please go here.