Basques in WWII Memorial
The Fighting Basques: Memory of WWII
Since 2015, the not-for profit history association Sancho the Beurko has carried out an international research project entitled “Fighting Basques: Memory of World War II” under the co-direction of Dr. Pedro J. Oiarzabal and Guillermo Tabernilla. This project aims to explore and shed light on the importance of the contributions of Basques of the Homeland and of the diaspora in the Allies’ war effort (including Australia, France, former Soviet Union, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America) during World War II.
The U.S. Army Air Force WWII veteran Gene Etchart (1916-2018) was interviewed, at the age of 100, by Joseba Etxarri, director of EuskalKultura.eus, and Pedro J. Oiarzabal in 2017, in Billings, Montana.
Regarding the United States (U.S.), the fact that the enlistment was compulsory for all males between 18 and 45 years of age allows us to identify and methodically study a whole generation of Basque immigrants and descendants up to a second degree, which has been scarcely researched. In addition, the women who enlisted in the different branches of the army are also an important part of our research. In this way, the project aims to rescue memories of that generation, while enabling us to rigorously analyze the migratory and settlement process of these individuals as well as their families since the mid-19th century.
As of today, the research team has been able to identify some 1,600 combatants of Basque origin (of three generations) in the U.S. Armed Forces, completing research in 46 States, Washington D.C., and Puerto Rico, with the result of writing up more than 1,100 biographies of these veterans and their families.
To put the volume of work carried out to date into context, it must be borne in mind that in the best of cases contemporary historiography (with some highly meritorious studies) had identified just a few dozen WWII veterans of Basque origin, of whom, in most cases, little more than the name was known.
We estimate that by 2025/2026 the biographies of all identified veterans will be finished, which, in turn, would make possible the ultimate goal of building a public memorial site to commemorate their service, heroic involvement, and sacrifice as part of our common Basque and Basque American legacy in the country.
The National Basque WWII Veterans Memorial
Under the auspices of the North American Basque Organizations (NABO) our final goal is to build “The National Basque World War II Veterans Memorial” to serve as a long-lasting memory to all veterans of Basque origin who served in the U.S. military during WWII as well as an educational tool for all to recognize and learn of their sacrifices and unselfish contributions to the country.
Simulation of possible design for memorial
The memorial would consist of a physical site, displaying the names of all identified veterans of Basque descent who have served in every branch of the U.S. Armed Forces, including the Merchant Marine, during WWII. In addition, the physical site would be complemented with a digital memorial site to access the veterans’ personal and military biographies. Considering the size and the migration pattern of the Basques, this could be one of the first war memorial sites of its kind in the country. We believe that the future National Basque WWII Veterans Memorial would become a national symbol of public recognition and pride comparable to the National Monument of the Basque Sheepherder, in Reno, Nevada, inaugurated in 1989. To achieve this goal, we need your help.
Contribute to remember and honor our
Your financial support is essential to complete the final stage of the research and to establish the first National Basque World War II Veterans Memorial in the country by 2026, where we could permanently honor and thank all veterans of Basque descent who served and sacrificed their lives for our freedoms. In addition, your donations will also guarantee the long-term maintenance of the memorial once it is built. Please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have questions about the different giving options available, including donating stock, planned giving, and qualified IRS account. To donate, scan or click the QR code, or send a check payable to N.A.B.O. WWII Veterans Memorial Fund to:
N.A.B.O. WWII Veterans Memorial Fund
c/o Mayi Petracek
11971 S. Allerton Cir
Parker, CO 80138
Your contribution to support the memorial project is tax-deductible Educational Fund of North American Basque Organizations Inc. (EIN: 82-0489192).
All donors making a donation in excess of $1,000 will be publicly recognized on a Donor wall unless they choose otherwise.
Get your Basque club or yourself involved in this project by:
Identifying WWII veterans of Basque origin in any of the military branches, including the merchant marine, and conducting and recording interviews with them
- Contact us at email@example.com to share information, documents, and photos of those veterans.