Michael's Dispatches

122 Comments

 

In the station were European veterans in old uniforms catching trains to who knows where.

Eindhoven was about an hour away.  Along the way it occurred to me that Maggie and the other veterans had jumped nearly this exact time, and maybe the corn was just like this in September 1944.  Maybe they had fought through this corn as is happening now in Afghanistan.

Eindhoven.

But where is the hotel?  Everywhere were veterans and re-enactors or active duty American soldiers.  Some Dutch re-enactors showed the direction to the hotel.

That evening, a big parade was brewing and more veterans were arriving.

Thousands of people were assembling near Eindhoven City Hall.

The veterans took VIP seating while crowds had to stand for hours.

General Petraeus arrived and said hello to each veteran, some of whom shook his hand while others saluted.  If General Petraeus had any idea of the hectic schedule that was still unfolding, he’d probably have wanted to get straight back into the war.  It seemed like everyone in Holland wanted to see the vets, and despite that the old soldiers were in their eighties and nineties, they kept going and going.

There must have been hundreds of vehicles in the parade.

And there on one of the military vehicles was Guadelupe with a big bandage wrapped around his head, like he’d been shaved too close by a bullet.  Most people probably thought he was just role-playing with all that gauze.  As it happened, the Market Garden Committee was keeping an angel eye on the veterans and took Guadelupe to the hospital but there was a crowd in the emergency room.  (How could there be a crowd in Eindhoven?  Bicycle pileup?)  But when the doctors realized Guadelupe was a veteran who liberated Eindhoven, they made Guadelupe the number one priority and he was first to be helped.  By the time Guadelupe got his head wrapped like a mummy, the parade was started and it was hard to get through town.  Some re-enactors saw Guadelupe and loaded him into a jeep and that’s where I saw him, rolling in the parade with that bandage.

So when Guadelupe got in front of General Petraeus and the Mayor, they stopped the parade and came down to check him out!  Guadelupe had a huge grin on his face, which unfortunately the lens didn’t catch.

The parade kept going, on and on.

Streets full of people.

Some Scots arrived and so this is some gratuitous advertising for RAFHALTON.com.

It kept going…

Veterans of the 82nd and 101st whose forerunners had helped liberate the land.

Never forget the Red Cross.

A big screen for those who could not see up close.

Are you tired yet?

Then came the kids bearing fire.

That’s Ralph Manley holding the torch.  Ralph was constantly on the radar screen.  Ralph was like Maggie; if he was talking, people listened.  He’s one of those men who once you meet him, you know you will never forget him.  Within the first minute Ralph had handed me an Eisenhower silver dollar and proceeded with what obviously was an oft-told story about meeting General Eisenhower.  There was something magic about Ralph.  When Ralph was eighty-two, another vet said, he had danced three women into the ground during a remembrance.  And so there he is up front and he’d somehow gotten hold of a torch.

It seemed like a matter of time until someone was set ablaze.

Dutch Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts marched by.

The parade finally ended.  It seemed to last all night but probably was only a couple hours, depending on when you started and stopped the clock.

Turns out, Ralph was carrying the torch to light the eternal flame.

Moments of silence under the glow of the flame.  Over the days, Ralph always radiated a powerful ambience when he saluted the flag or sang the National Anthem.

More honors are rendered.

These signs were all around, thanking the British and American soldiers.

After an exhausting day, some of the eighty- and ninety-plus-year-old veterans actually went out for a beer, while people danced in the streets to the Scottish bagpipes.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    osaer charles · 12 years ago
    Great work Michael I'm a member of a belgium reinactment club the patton drivers and owns a dodge WC 54 ambulance after seeing this pictures I hope to take part one day at this great commemoration in holland.Keep up the good work charles
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matthew Gonzalez · 12 years ago
    "Now do you believe that Dutch people treat our veterans like rock stars and Royalty? Are you tired? Is this dispatch too long? But wait. It’s not over yet"


    HAHA I never doubted you for a minute, but those photos and events were still incredible to behold. May God Bless the Dutch and Holland. Wonderful dispatch.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Peter Montbriand · 12 years ago
    Thank you for this work! I pray to God that our friends in Holland can win their fight with radical islam, they seem to be a country that "gets it".
    This was not too long. The vets day are few, and I know they will treasure this trip and ceremony for the rest of their lives. This tribute got to me. Different wars and different eras, but the fighters are timeless. Those who claim America is going to hell are wrong.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Soljerblue · 12 years ago
    Mike -- superb piece, too short (if anything), and the photos were fantastic. I've known for sometime how well the Nederlanders honor the Allied soldiers who liberated them. A member of my late uncle's infantry squad from the 95th ID is buried in Margraten, and his grave has been in the special care of a Dutch family for many years.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Christopher · 12 years ago
    Bravo ... my father was a WW II vet ... at Lt in the medical corps .... I am proud of America!
    Thank you ... this is why ...

    Best wishes ... God Bless
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Frank Drewry · 12 years ago
    Nice!!!!! Many of these bring back memories of my time in Normandy during the D-Day celebrations this summer. Talking to the veterans, American, British, Canadian, Belgian, and French (resistance) was THE highlight of our time there. In fact, on page 4, in the picture with Ralph is a Brit sitting in a wheelchair. I met him and his "driver" in St Mere Eglise. They are 100 and 89, respectively.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Roel Manders · 12 years ago
    Dear Sir,

    Thank you very much for your article and photo's. I'm glad Americans can read that a lot of Dutchmen have adopted graves of fallen American soldiers. I have also adopted several graves. By doing this I will hope to keep the memory alive of what your countrymen and great nation did for my parents and my people.

    Kind regards,
    Roel Manders
    The Netherlands
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Jack E. Hammond · 12 years ago
    Dear Michael,

    It would take some time, but the British MERLIN is about the best helicopter in the world today for medivac missions in areas like Afghanistan. It is a helicopter over powered for its size and can easily operate in hot-high climates. The British are now bringing up to speed some MERLIN medivac helicopter pilots and crews in California. The Danes had done them a favor and sold back some rescue MERLINs that they had bought. On one condition. That some of their pilots and crews could train with the British medivac MERLINs in California and on combat missions in Afghanistan. Because the Danes are probably the # NATO country that is pulling more of its' weight in Afghanistan (for what ever reason its soldiers volunteer or it in numbers and want to go to Afghanistan and fight). They plan to send a large MERLIN medivac unit to Afghanistan in the near future.

    Jack E. Hammond

    NOTE> The first MERLINs crews in Afghanistan discovered that the low sound level of that helicopter made it much more survivable than the CH-47 Chinook (the king of helicopters in Afghanistan, although as the British say, it can be detected from take off to combat LZ to back to base by the Taliban by its sound level).

    .
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Matt Baker · 12 years ago
    Michael

    thanks, a very emotional and moving piece. Having been to Nijmegen and seen the sites and war graves I know the impact it has.

    For interest to others, when Market Garden failed and Holland was set to starve thoughout the winter, known as the "Hongerwinter", the Allies and Germans agreed a plan "operation Manna" for food drops in April and May to relieve the starvation in certain areas. Over 5000 flights were made through agreed corridors to drop food, some of the planes going in so low that they had to look up to see the Dutch people waving to them. It didn't stop the starvation, but it helped to relieve a very dire time for the Dutch.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Felix Drost · 12 years ago
    I am from Arnhem, my wife from Nijmegen. I sincerely hope one day the Iraqi and Afghani people can look back like I do and truly appreciate the sacrifice that was made. I'm sorry to have missed this year's ceremonies, but instead I spent the time vacationing for the first time with my wife and baby daughter. Maybe just carrying on with my life in happiness and liberty is the greatest compliment I can make to those who gave their lives.

    I'll be at the Arnhem bridge though, I love these men and what they stand for.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Bryon · 12 years ago
    I wish Americans celebrated Memorial Day like the Dutch do! Thank you for your report. I read the whole thing from start to finish in one sitting. I could not take myself away from it. It was not too long! May God be with you and keep you safe along with all our troops in harms way!
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Ad Moest · 12 years ago
    A pity that you were not at the ceremony for Ltc Cole (MoH) His monument is now very close to the spot he was shot.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    P. J. Hartwick · 12 years ago
    Thak you , Michael, for this report. It was particularly inspiring to note that so many young people seemed genuinely interested in the veterans and their stories. I was astonished at the re-enactment volunteers. There's no better way to teach the important lessons across the generations that these kinds of things. It seems a rare thing these days that there would be such an outpouring of appreciation -- indeed, affection -- for what those "oh-so-young men of the 101st did. I guess that their reputation and the level of appreciation is in proportion to the Dutch citizens realizing they were giving their all -- for them. It's nice to know they are still appreciated, 60 years later. The adoption of a cross by a Dutch family in the American Battle Monuments Cemetery is touching indeed.

    Many thanks.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Kevin Casner · 7 years ago
    Hello,

    My nam e is Kevin Casner. I live in the Charlotte, North Carolina area of the USA.

    My father is Raymond Casner. he is 89 years of age. He was with the 502 PIR F company of the 101st Airbourne and jumped in Operation Market Garden September 17th 1944. He was a private and was a demolition specialist.

    My father has always wanted to return to Europe/Holland, but has never pursued it for health reasons (even though he is very active and spry for an 89 year old man)

    The reason for my email is this. My brother Steve Casner, my father, and myself are flying into London on September 15th. On the 17th we plan to take a flight from London to Amsterdam, rent a car and drive towards Eindhoven, where my father has made hotel reservations. I'm wondering if there are any festivities or memorial celebrations that we could attend during this time. I will travel back home with my father on the 21st of September.

    Sometime around the 19th or 20th of September of 1944 my father was injured in a blast that left him unconscious for a period of time. From what I've been able to discover most of his clothes were blown off and his dog tags were lost. He was reported Missing in action...then later reported Killed in action. I have a copy of his obituary in the local paper from December of 1944.

    Obviously my father wasn't killed. We would love to know about anything that may be of interest for his first return there since 1944.

    Thank you in advance for your time and assistance.
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