LITTLE ROCK, Ark. (KTHV) -- It's a story that began 67 years ago during World War II in Germany. A world away from small town Enola, Arkansas, home to Private First Class Jarrell Bryant. Bryant joined the Army in 1944 but this husband and father would never make it home.
"Hi, is this Ben?" asks THV's Liz Massey. She's on the phone with Ben De Staercke, a 20-year-old Belgian postal worker with a deep connection to Private Bryant.
"He and his unit were engaged in combat at Merken, that's in Germany and while he was trying to aid one of his comrades at the bank of Roer River, he was hit by machine gun fire and unfortunately killed," says De Staercke.
At the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial in Belgium, you'll find 57 acres. The final resting place of 7,992 American soldiers. Plot C, Row 13, Grave 53, this is the place where De Staercke visits Private Bryant.
He says, "I try to visit his gravesite 3 to 4 times each year mostly with all of our group."
De Staercke belongs to the Timberwolves Remembrance Group Belgium.
He explains, "It's a group that tries to show the public here how an American unit looked like during World War II."
De Staercke says they chose Private Bryant's unit, the 415th Infantry Regiment of the 104th Infantry Division because they fought and liberated part of their home region. To show his appreciation, De Staercke adopted Private Bryant's grave.
"Adoption is actually more symbolic, you keep the memory alive, you gather information about them," says De Staercke.
His research led him to the University of Central Arkansas. Where Bryant went to school, back then it was called Arkansas State Teachers College.
"A memorial remembers and honors the 46 alumni killed during World War II," says Jimmy Bryant, UCA's Director of Archives and Special Collections.
"We respect the contributions that these men, 45 men and one woman, gave in World War II, of course more served but they gave it their all, their life for this country," says Bryant.
There's also a living memorial. Planted after the war, 46 oak trees line Donaghey Avenue.
De Staercke says, "It's important that we keep the memories alive of the people who assured that freedom so we can actually live how we live today, thanks to those people."
People, heroes from another country, like Private First Class Jarrell Bryant. A man Ben De Staercke never met, never knew but will never forget.
De Staercke emailed Jimmy Bryant and both are actively trying to find more information on Private Bryant including any living relatives. De Staercke wants Bryant's family to know they're always welcome in Belgium if they'd like to visit his grave.