This Month at the Historical Society of Frankford

Frankford WWII Veteran’s Story to be told at Historical Society

At the first meeting of the season on September 12 at 730 PM, Jim Byers will tell the story of his grandfather, Donald Byers and his service during World War II.

The story of Donald Byers’ service during World War II began in Frankford. As Byers traveled across the United States, North Africa, and Italy, he wrote about his experiences but the people and places in his hometown never left his mind.The story of Donald Byers’ service during World War II began in Frankford.

As Byers traveled across the United States, North Africa, and Italy, he wrote about his experiences but the people and places in his hometown never left his mind.

Almost 60 years after his death, Don’s story was made into a book which will be featured during the presentation.

Byers’ handwritten and typed notes were transcribed and edited by his grandson, James Byers, to produce My American Odyssey, a book that follows the WW II veteran from his induction into the U.S. Army until the day he passed in 1958. Letters to family and friends as well as maps were included in the book to give readers more insight into the author and his route through North Africa and Italy as part of the 337th Infantry Regiment of the 85th Division of the 5th Army.

Donald Byers served as a wireman setting up the communication centers that relayed information between the Division and others. “Thousands of books have been written about World War II, but what makes My American Odyssey differ from most is that it’s from the point of view of a common soldier,” said the book’s editor James Byers of Wyoming, PA.

James spent years researching, editing, and designing the book. He even visited Frankford a few times to see where his grandfather grew up and why it meant so much to him.“I visited Frankford High School and his neighborhood on Wakeling Street,” James said. “I wanted to get a feel for the town…try to imagine what it looked and felt like in the 1940s.”

By the time he started working on the book, many of his Don’s family, friends, and comrades had passed. And then there’s the fact that he never met his grandfather who died from polio in 1958. So he relied on books, documents from government agencies, and interviews with people who knew Donald. But there were other obstacles that he could not work around like the destruction of photos and documents. In 1972, Hurricane Agnes ravaged northeastern Pennsylvania where Don had relocated in the 1950s. The tropical storm caused a flood that likely destroyed photos and documents kept at the Byers family home. The next year, thousands of veterans’ military files were damaged by a fire at the National Archives in St. Louis, MO, in 1973.

The story of Don Byer’s American Odyssey will be told during the presentation and the book is available for sale at 337thinfantry.com and amazon.com. It can also be downloaded on kindle.For more information about My American Odyssey, go to 337thinfantry.com or contact James Byers at jim@337thinfantry.com or 570.328.2941.

For more information about the presentation at the Frankford Historical Society contact Jim Young at 215-743-6030 or frankfordhistorical@gmail.com.