Michael's Dispatches

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DAY THREE

Americans have a habit of making a first visit to Holland by parachuting in.  Next morning was a big jump as members of the 101st and 82nd Airborne did the same.  Nobody knows how many people attended but some say it was maybe fifty or a hundred thousand spectators.

Later that afternoon, the bus headed to the “U.S. Army Garrison Schinnen,” where there was a party and barbeque along with a live band.

Re-enactors were there with these signs.  More reminders of Afghanistan.  “Roadside bombs” are nothing new to warfare.  The Iraqis did not invent IEDs.  Similar bombs were used during World War II.

More Afghanistan reminders.

There were U.S. Civil War re-enactors.  Many Germans are involved in reenacting our Civil War, and though they are not permitted to re-enact World War II in the Netherlands, some actors talked about Germans who reenact entire battles in the United Kingdom.

There were Dutch soldiers present who had fought in Urozgan Province and every one of them wanted to return to Afghanistan.  Every Dutch Afghan veteran I have met—whether that be in Borneo, Afghanistan, UAE or the Netherlands—all want to return to combat in Urozgan.

The students often lined-up with the veterans for a photo.

DAY FOUR

We loaded the bus and rallied somewhere—by now there had been so many events (not all described herein) that time had melted into goo and I often didn’t know where we were.  Some German veterans arrived and we spoke at length in German.  One had been a POW in Colorado picking potatoes and said his treatment had been very good and honorable, a story oft-repeated.

We loaded onto the bus and headed to the Waal River, where Maggie and others had crossed under heavy, direct German fire.  The crossing seemed suicidal.  Today the Dutch people had set up a giant monitor and two viewing sections where veterans would again be honored.

More veterans joined in.

Bus after bus arrived next to the Waal River.

Still more veterans.

Captain Will Garrison, a veteran of Iraq and Afghanistan, had driven in from Germany.

Guadelupe unraveled the mummy bandage and was sporting his shiner.  Asked if it hurt, Guadelupe said he used to box in the Army and didn’t feel normal unless he had a black eye.

Again the ceremonies last hours and again the best part was the kids.

That’s the Waal River in the background.  This photo is taken from the viewing area as veterans again cross the river.  In order to secure the nearby bridge to keep pursuing the retreating Germans, Maggie and his men were tasked to cross the river and attack across this open space and secure the bridge that was loaded with explosives.  Please make sure to watch this movie trailer: A Bridge Too Far.

The movie “A Bridge Too Far” includes a reenactment of the Waal River Crossing.

America lost 47 men during The Crossing.

And so they crossed again, and were greeted by Dutch and American soldiers and lots of cameras.

Maggie, who had made the crossing then and today, said the government of the Netherlands will soon build a new bridge.  This sign will mark the bridge that will be called The Crossing (De Oversteek).

The ceremonies continued with more talks and the names of the fallen were remembered and flowers were placed.

Veterans and General Petraeus gave inspiring talks.

This veteran had everyone rolling with laughter at his stories.

Maggie could probably talk for two days without a note.  After maybe thirty minutes, a note was slipped to him that Queen Beatrice was waiting to meet him.  He needed to cut it short, but Maggie said she could wait and everyone kind of laughed because he was not really joking, but then after some more minutes Maggie cut it short.  At ninety-two and with all Maggie has lived through, he was having a say.

When he finished, General Petraeus and the rest high-stepped it over to see Queen Beatrice and Prince Philip.  Some folks said Queen Elizabeth was coming.

Maggie, General Petraeus and crew where whisked off to the Royalty while we Commoners loaded into the long line of buses.

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  • This commment is unpublished.
    Mark · 12 years ago
    Michael - Thanks for the superb piece - it seemed like I was there.
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    Scott from TX · 12 years ago
    i always get sucked in to the photos and story that you put together. nothing like the adrenaline rush of being a westerner driving through Kandahar with a Corolla on the loose.
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    Johnathan Crawford · 12 years ago
    Thanks Michael,

    What a pleasant surprise this essay was. Your pictures are worth 1,000 words!
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    JC · 12 years ago
    Great report, not too far from the bridge this time then. I am following you on twitter too. We need people like you reporting from the heart of things, even if maybe you get too close but that compensate from those who do it from the terrace of the Hilton and you know what I mean.
    Take care.
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    Austen · 12 years ago
    Brilliant - keep up the excellent work.
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    Salgofnir · 12 years ago
    Another good report. Stay safe.
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    Joseph Bays ICCSSS, · 12 years ago
    A great picture story. I never knew the Dutch remembered, although some of Europe seems to have forgotten.
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    Nathaniel · 12 years ago
    great pics as always!!
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    Eddy · 12 years ago
    Thanks Michael, this was a great dispatch, and in no way too long. I appreciate you taking the time to detail all the cereomonies and events, it's hard to imagine us here in the United States putting up so much effort to honor our vets, much less those of another country. A grim reminder of how much we take for granted. And please stay safe in Afghanistan, the start of your dispatch scared the crap out of me, I don't know how I'd get my frontline news without you.
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    Robin · 12 years ago
    Whoa! It's really almost creepy, you were all over the place. In fact, you went to the place where I live and even the school I go to. Crazy!

    As always, you take pretty awesome photos.
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    Pat · 12 years ago
    Thank you sir for what you are doing. Bringing to our homes what really happens out there and giving us the chance to see pictures and realize there are many out there who do appreciate our military and what America has done and continues to do in spreading freedom. Seeing the pictures of all the vets reminds me of my neighbor who was in the Air Force in both WWII and Korea. I always enjoy having conversations with him. I can only imagine how you felt being surrounded by all those incredible veterans and hearing their stories. It was also great that you got some pics of soldiers who were able to make it to the ceremonies as well. Keep up the great work sir!
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    Allen · 12 years ago
    Michael -

    Great, great, great dispatch. You're work is so refreshing. I get emotional just reading and remembering these vets.

    ~Allen
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    JJT · 12 years ago
    Thank you for an excellent piece.
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    Kevin · 12 years ago
    Outstanding work as usual, Michael!
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    Vincent · 12 years ago
    I have been "with you" since day one. I don't know what drives you but you are one brave, necessary reporter. Simply calling you a reporter seems so inadequate in the face of a monumental failure of war news dissemination by almost all News agencies. Stay well, Michael. We need you!
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    Matthew · 12 years ago
    Thank you Michael! You always seem to make it to the most interesting places! I must make it to a Market-Garden event one day, before all of our old warriors are gone.
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    winston · 12 years ago
    Excellent reporting. Beautiful photos... Good job!
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    CJ · 12 years ago
    We can never forget, then as now, the incredible sacrifices of our armed men and women.

    God Bless them all, and thank you Michael for taking us along for the ride.
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    Kiwi Chris · 12 years ago
    Thank you for this fantastic article - we never had coverage of this national tribute down here - What a fantastic honour for these fantastic soldiers.
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    Lance McMillan · 12 years ago
    Nice bit of reporting. Thanks.

    Was a bit disappointed that there were so few indications of any recognition of the Polish commitment to Market-Garden (or to Afghanistan for that matter). Sosabowski's parachute brigade was dropped near Arnhem in an effort to help relieve the pressure on the British 1st Airborne and was decimated in the ensuing fighting, and yet I only saw one Polish flag in any of the many shots you took of the various memorials -- it's kind of sad how the service of the Polish exile troops is so consistently overlooked.
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    Scott Dudley · 12 years ago
    In 2000, I had the honor of visiting the American Cemetary there. It was on a weekday and I was surprised at the number of Dutch also visiting. They, perhaps more than any other Europeans, respect and appreciate the sacrifices our vets made. At dusk, there was a ceremonial lowering of our flag and as my friend, an Air Force officer and I stood at attention, so did all the Dutch visitors. An amazing sight. I love the Dutch.
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    Tom Reynolds · 12 years ago
    Beautiful!
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    Jim Delaney · 12 years ago
    Splendid presentation again, Michael. Gen. P continues to bowl me over with his intellect, calm and integrity.

    Glad you're trekking into the Himalayas during your break in Nepal. You won't regret it. I and a buddy trekked to Mt. Kalipatar, overlooking Everest base camp, about 25 years ago. What a truly awesome experience. Standing alone atop Kalipatar and gazing into the daylight's black sky, only then did I realize how truly insignificant we each of us is in the universal scheme of things. At that moment I fully understood the meaning of "the silence was defeaning". Not a sound at all. Had never understood that phrase before. Utterly alone, just me, my friend and an overwhelming, almost menacing, eternity before us. It really put things into perspective for me. It was a very humbling and mind-jarring experience which will always be part of me.
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    Dr. Kenneth Noisewat · 12 years ago
    Y'all probably know this already, but just in case..

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Purple_Heart_Lane
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    David Paul · 12 years ago
    The goose bumps registered the quality of the report.
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    wf · 12 years ago
    Wonderful dispatch Michael, thank you! It seems that Dutch children are well aware of this time in history, as they should. Why are our children not being taught any of this? We have veterans (from WWII to the present) in every city of the US and I would be willing to bet that not five of them have been asked by any school to talk to our children about what they did. We are missing the chance to show our children what honor and duty look like in person.
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    Tim · 12 years ago
    America has always been full of hero's willing to give for the greater good, to protect the weak or needy.
    A wonderful group of hero's along with some Dutch hero's as well.
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    Alastair · 12 years ago
    Michael. That was a superb article which I didn't pick up on the British media really covering. Stay safe on returning to Afghan
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    Robert · 12 years ago
    Are so very awesome for remembering the troops that way! Would love it if more in our country understood that. When I was scanning the article I seen where some of the Dutch soldiers want to get back in the fight, I commend them for that. I wish I could go over there and serve as a soldier. However because of a mistake I made when I was younger I am not allowed to serve. So I am working on getting job that will put me there so I can serve that way!
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    Julie Harris · 12 years ago
    Wonderful piece Michael - it brought tears to my eyes. Keep up the good work! Will be praying for your safety. Sincerely and with gratitude, Julie Harris
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    BravoBilly · 12 years ago
    I am rd Army brat and a Veteran, too. So when I saw all those veterans, I became proud. Thanks Michael...You are Florida at its finest.
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    Sandy · 12 years ago
    Michael....you've got a gift for really transporting us along with you...thanks.
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    Randall Hannaway · 12 years ago
    Michael,

    Thank you for covering this event, truly, thank you. It was the next best thing to being there. These men gave so much, it's vital that what they did during those grave days never be forgotten. I can't imagine the emotions that you must have felt being able to share in such a historical event. We are grateful for all of your efforts both the more enjoyable stories like this one and of course the more difficult war coverage. Keep your head down and be well.

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    Papajimm · 12 years ago
    I have been so pummeled with anti American bashing/demonstrations around the world that this accounting is hard to wrap my emotions around. Do you thing the Iraqis, Afghanis, Pakistanis, et. al will every be grateful for the lives and ultimate sacrifices being made to secure their democracy and resulting freedoms? Unlikely. Not the way they roll. Stay safe Michael.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Gordon Duff · 12 years ago
    Great photos, great story and a great group of guys being honored.
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    Sara Johnson · 12 years ago
    There is nowhere else I have heard nor read of this event. This post is remarkable and I'll send link to all who care so deeply of our country, its defenders and the veteran liberators for freedom. God Bless You. Keep this up. Extraordinary dispatch. Thank you.
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    David L. · 12 years ago
    My wife's father was Dutch. He worked for Shell in Java and went back into the army as a private as soon as the Japanese attacked. He was captured by the Japanese in Java in 1942, imprisoned there for several months and then sent to Japan by Hell Ship, where he remained imprisoned until the end of the war. He is dead now but a few years ago my wife and I visited some of his and her relatives in Holland. The only place they really insisted that we go was the battleground for Market Garden. A few of my wife's relatives had been children or even young women during WW II. The gratitude and respect for what was done to liberate them was deep and heartfelt. Yet all of her Dutch relatives--completely without exception--could not fathom why our country chose to fight in Iraq. Afghanistan was never mentioned. It was eclipsed by Iraq at the time.

    Thank you for your great reporting.
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    Jarold · 12 years ago
    Whenever I meet someone who is interested in the fight, I tell them of you and your website. Thanks for all you do, and thanks to all our vets, US, Brits, Dutch, and all others on our side. We are in this together. Mike, you get the real truth out. God Bless and Protect You.
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    Alan Johnson · 12 years ago
    Michael,
    As always thanks for the dispatch, and the update and pictures on the memorial services, I wish that people would realize that some people do remember the sacrifice that was made and is being made. Keep up the good work and enjoy the fresh air break.
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    C. Renee Daigle · 12 years ago
    Thank you, Michael, for all that you do to keep us here at home informed.
    This post is wonderful. I was enrapt with the Dutch treatment of our veterans. They deserve all of it and more.
    Thanks again, God speed, and keep safe. You and all of our troops are in my prayers.
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    Karl Crankshaw · 12 years ago
    Michael,

    Excellent report and pictures, Words cannot express how moved I was at the courage of the Airborne Vets and the way the Dutch people remember and honour the sacrifices that were and continue to be made for freedom.
    Stay Safe.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Thomas · 12 years ago
    But I will hit the tip jar first.
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    Dennis Graham · 12 years ago
    Thank you Michael,
    Praise the Lord for the continueing gratitude of the Dutch people,even after all these years. Please stay safe. You are in my prayers.
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    Philip Lewis · 12 years ago
    I'm not sure what struck me more..the vitality of the WWII veterans, the obvious affection and gratitude of the Dutch for their liberation, the odd contrast of the cornfields of Afghanistan with those of Eindhoven, the strong commitment of the Dutch to supporting foreign policy goals. Really a fine dispatch. You have a tremendous gift, both as a photographer and as a writer. Thank you.
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    Jim S · 12 years ago
    Thank You.
    It was nice to read a story about Love for our Military.
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    MikeB · 12 years ago
    Amazing post, thank you.
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    Hester · 12 years ago
    Great dispatch! I just wrote to the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to thank the Dutch for this wonderful remembrance. It is so heartening to know there are people who have not forgotten the sacrifices of the allied soldiers.
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    crosspatch · 12 years ago
    I don't know if they still do it but when I served in Europe in the late 1970's there was an annual 100 mile march that was sort of a remembrance of Market-Garden. I attended in 1978. The people were absolutely wonderful and it is an experience I will never forget. Sometimes I really miss that part of the world.
  • This commment is unpublished.
    Lorenzo from Oz · 12 years ago
    Both moving and informative, thank you
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    Colin Perry · 12 years ago
    It has all been said above. Brilliant....

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