Michael's Dispatches




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.


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.
    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

    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

    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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