Outline: Ageless Friends
Plot I, Row 17, Grave 21. The grave of Private First Class James E. Wickline from West Virginia, 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment. He died in the early afternoon on September 17th 1944. That was all Maarten Vossen knew at that time, who lives in the town of Heerlen in the Netherlands. Vossen (1988) was touched by the personal stories from the Second World War. It was that fascination that brought him to the American Military Cemetery in Margraten in the Netherlands at the age of 13.
Wickline’s grave was a random assignment to him. At that time, not much information was available on the American soldier, who died at the young age of 21. During the past years, Vossen started a quest to learn more about the soldier whose grave he adopted and still takes care of. ‘With my search, I hope to give James the honor and gratitude that he still deserves,’ Vossen said.
Vossen visited Groesbeek, the place where Wickline died, locating the field near an old farm. There, he met a 95-year-old man, Mr. Rikken, who could still remember the skies filled with planes and parachutes. ‘Unfortunately, he couldn’t tell me more about James,’ Vossen said. That’s why Vossen decided to visit both Morgantown and Dailey for the first time in 2012. Wickline grew up just outside of Morgantown in the mining town of Osage. Wickline’s parents migrated to Dailey just some time after the Second World War. Despite of the help from some locals, Vossen left with as many questions he came with. It was a newspaper article published in 2013 in the USA that put him in contact with a former neighbour of the Wickline’s.
On 17 September 2014, 70 years after James’ death, a solution initiated by Vossen and County Commissioner Tom Bloom, was approved in a meeting by the County Commissioners in Morgantown in which the bridge on route 19 near Osage will be renamed to James Wickline. Vossen attended this meeting. He also visited the former neighbor and spoke to the school principal of the University High School where James graduated in 1942. There, a yearbook was shown with several interesting photos and documents concerning James Wickline. Vossen also had the privilege to speak to a former girlfriend of James and was invited later that night for dinner at Louis Birurakis’ home, a former basketball player of James from the Hilltoppers. ‘Those visits where quite emotional,’ Vossen recalled. Due to this search, Wickline became more than a name chiseled into marble at a white cross somewhere in the Netherlands. For the first time, the unknown soldier got a face, a voice and became a person with whom Vossen feels a kindred connection. A contemporary who lived in another period of time.
In 2015 Vossen will return once again to West Virginia looking for the last missing links in his search for more information on Wickline. Also, he will visit some ‘new friends’ he made during his search. Maarten will also be invited at the official ceremony of renaming the bridge on route 19 to the James Wickline bridge, not far from where James grew up.
Documentary maker Marijn Poels
I got to know about Maarten’s story through a friend. Despite the fact I’m not that interested in making stories about WWII, I was immediately fascinated by the passion and determination of Maarten’s quest.
His story somehow revealed a warm friendship of two persons from out of a completely different time. A twenty seven year old Dutch boy and a soldier from West Virginia who died seventy years ago. The one who gave his live for the freedom of the other. Seventy years later Maarten’s dream is to document his final trip to America and his search in the Netherlands. He will visiting surviving relatives in West Virginia, searching for the last answers and finally re-opening the bridge named after James Wickline.
After meeting with Maarten I was convinced that we can contribute towards freedom by remembering the past.
I would like to follow Maarten Vossen in a period of three months in his quest to learn more about James E. Wickline. What did Maarten possess to adopt a grave at the age of 13 at the American Military Cemetery in Margraten? What kept him looking for more information on James Wickline? What was eventually the result of his quest? I will join Maarten in both the Netherlands and West Virginia to James’ family and friends. A story about an unknown grave which led eventually to warm friendships and special relations.
The missing fivethousand
We already received some great support from different organizations but we are just missing the last € 5.000,- in our budget. The investment of € 5.000,- will be used for contracting our favorite music composer to achieve not only a good story but to give our public a cinematic experience as well.
Having said that, through crowd funding we believe we can raise publicity with our story among the people as well. By contributing a small amount you will be part of the supportive crew, receive updates, blogs, production photo’s and much more.
Planning / release
April / June 2015
Research and development
July / August / September 2015
October / November 2015
Music and soundtracks
Release USA and EUROPE
Currently we are in the research and development phase. Also working hard, together with Capricorn Foundationto, to fill up the gap of the production budget.
Therefore we did some filming and interviews and off course made our fundraising teaser. We hope we can count on your individual support. We do promise to make a documentary which will be inspiring, moving and memorable. Just how you like it!
By contributing to our project you will somehow keep the past in our memories and the sense of our freedom alive.
Thanks you so much,