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St. Louis Student Solves Mystery for WWII Researchers

St. Louis Student Solves Mystery for WWII Researchers

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Student Spotlight - Sarah Ding.JPG

Contributing writer Sarah Ding is a freshman at John Burroughs School.

Carter Cashen, a junior at Thomas Jefferson School in Sunset Hills, has a passion for history. Because of his interest in World War II and the required 80 hours of volunteer service he needed to fulfill there, one of his teachers, Dr. Myra Miller, recommended that Cashen join her nonprofit, Legacy: Lost and Found. Legacy: Lost and Found returns relics to family members and helps grave adopters learn more about their soldier. This organization was a perfect fit for Cashen, and he fulfilled all 80 service hours in one summer.

Cashen was assigned to the B-24 King Size project. The project involved digging up information regarding a B-24 heavy bomber that crashed in Belgium on Dec. 25, 1944, with a crew of nine. Cashen was in charge of finding out more about one crew member in particular: Henry G. Maxham.

After digging through old newspapers, Cashen discovered that Maxham went to a school in Vermont. This huge discovery led to archived yearbooks from Maxham’s school. Cashen began to cross-match photos from the military.

As one of the struggles the team faced during this project, no one knew anything about Maxham and another crew member. Because of that, Cashen and his team had to use Photoshop and other tools to deduce which of the two was, in fact, Maxham. Eventually, one of the Photoshopped photos matched Maxham’s face, and the team knew they’d discovered which crew member Maxham was.

Cashen’s research took months, and he reached many dead ends in the process. The high point, though, came when Cashen contacted one of Maxham’s cousins. The two eventually met over a Zoom teleconference, which Carter calls the most rewarding part of it all.

Carter Cashen, a junior at Thomas Jefferson School in Sunset Hills, shares more details about his research and ambitions for the future.

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Dan Bindler has served as a committee and board member of multiple professional and civic organizations, both in the St. Louis area and across the nation.