Andover Townsman, Andover, MA


March 28, 2013

Overseas man looks to connect with World War II veteran's family

Editor, Townsman:

My name is Ben Savelkoul, and I am 50 years old and live in a little town called Voerendaal in The Netherlands. Several years ago I adopted the grave of Sgt. Michael DeFebio at the American Military Cemetery Margraten. A year later I adopted a grave at the American Military Cemetery Henri-Chapelle in Belgium. The grave I adopted there belongs to Tec5 Gerard K. Duncan. He was just like Michael DeFebio, a soldier of the 643rd Tank Destroyer Battalion and they both came from the city of Providence, R.I.

From that moment on, I started to search on the Internet for all kind of information/photos about the 643rd Tank Destroyer Battalion. Unfortunately, there was not much to find. That’s when I decided to make my own webpage about the 643rd TD BN.

In the coming years, and still now, I receive a lot of e-mails from people who live in the States and who had a father, brother or grandfather who served in the 643rd TD BN. They also have provided me with lots of information and pictures. Without their help, the website wouldn’t be as excellent and commemorate to the men off the 643rd TD BN as it is now.

Now my question to you is: Can you help me to find Thomas Ryan’s family? He was also a member of the 643rd Tank Destroyer Battalion during World War II and he’s just like my adopted soldier buried on American Military Cemetery Margraten in The Netherlands. He lived in Andover/Lawrence in Essex County.

I did receive some great help from Leslie Baskin from Memorial Hall Library Information Services, but she could not find any relatives or family. She sent me an article about Thomas Ryan from the Andover Townsman newspaper from April 26, 1945.

I hope you or your readers can help me find relatives of Thomas Ryan, or maybe you know somebody who can help me. My email is

Ben Savelkoul

Voerendaal, The Netherlands

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