In November 2015, 98-year-old Steve Bolcar contacted KMHS looking for family members of two of his crew (Tenny Crew, #238) who died in two separate crashes. Mr. Bolcar was not on the Kassel Mission, but this was at the top of his bucket list. He wanted to tell each family about their lost one, who was still very much alive in his memory.
Mr. Bolcar and then KMHS President Linda Dewey conversed on the phone several times. He was very much "with it!" He said that he had been thinking of hiring a private investigator, but wondered if KMHS could help. Dewey told him that we had found many crew members from the Kassel Mission and/or their families and that we would give it a shot.
Dewey gave the assignment to the primary member of our Search and Contact Team, Janet Heise. Janet is a family member of Lt. Bolin, who died on the Kassel Mission. Janet is the one who made headlines by finding the only surviving crew member of the Bolin crew, tail gunner Orland Schooley. Mr. Schooley, you may recall, cried when he opened his door in Florida to a man asking if he was on the Kassel Mission. The tail gunner thought everyone had forgotten. Janet's sons flew to Florida and presesnted Mr. Schooley with a KMHS plaque that Memorial Day at his hometown's commemorative ceremony. Six months later, our newfound tail gunner passed away.
Late in 2015 and into early 2016, Janet dug in and did what she could. She became stymied looking for George McGuiness, who died in a crash on March 20, 1945. His widow, Irene, had moved by Santa Monica in 1954. The trail cooled there.
Things were different in the search for Keil Holland’s family, who was killed in a plane crash. Through searching obituary mentions of family members, Janet found Keil Holland's nephew, of the same name! She wrote the younger Keil, but never heard back. She contacted another, who said he was not related.
We had come so close, we couldn’t give up now. Wondering this Keil Holland was on Facebook, Dewey searched and did find a Keil Holland, messaged him and asked if he was related to the 445th BG airman. That was a year ago. That trail cooled as well, while Mr. Bolcar aged another year.
Apparently, Keil Holland never saw the message. Then, out of the blue, Dewey received an answer from him a few weeks ago. Yes, he is the nephew we are looking for! After several correspondences, Mr. Holland sent his contact information, saying he wishes to connect with Steve Bolcar.
On Sunday, Dewey tried to call Mr. Bolcar, but his phone no longer works. Hoping that he hadn't passed away, she wrote to tell him the good news.
"Last night," Dewey says, "I received a phone call from an alert, astute, overjoyed 99-year-old. Steve Bolcar is alive and well and absolutely thrilled!" Bolcar intends to write Keil Holland and is even thinking of asking his newly retired grandson to take a drive with him to Pennsylvania. (Mr Bolcar lives in New Jersey.) He has some things to give to the Holland family and wants to meet them and tell them all about their uncle, whom they never knew.
History is never dead. We will keep you posted. Meanwhile, we will renew the search for the McGuiness family