Meet the Mayor!
Trip Start May 27, 2009
28Trip End Jun 11, 2009
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After the reception with the Mayor we all were herded back on the buses and were taken to the University of Nijmegen for yet another reception. When we arrived outside the building were about 10-12 WWII military vehicles from the Keep it Rolling Vehicle Club. It included a few jeeps, 2 CCKW, WC 53 and more Command Cars then I ever saw in one place. And also a Dodge Power Wagon. They all looked good but they were more of a vehicle club then a reenactment group
We were addressed by the President of the University and shown a slide show of how the University has grown since the war. The University was destroyed during the war and rebuilt outside of town on the property of a gentlemen who invented powdered milk. He owned the property and sold it to the University. Included on the property was a beautiful home that is called the Castle and we had lunch in that building.
We also participated in a wreath laying ceremony at the University at the plaque that was dedicated to the men of the 82nd Airborne. The ceremony was complete with a color-guard, a choir and the laying of the flowers on the wreath. They asked a number of veterans to lay flowers and it ended up being pretty emotional for one. Howard Huebner sat back down and said, "my buddies, my buddies." They still feel the scars of this even today.
We then moved on to lunch and had a chance to explore the MV's for a while. We left the University and move off to Groesbeek
Ron Allen decided to do some scrounging and he was able to convince a Dutch gentlemen that owned one of the jeeps to give us a ride back to the hotel. That was the highlight of the trip so far. We actually took the jeep through Groesbeek and out to some of the drop zones of the 82nd. Snapped some photos and the guy driving was telling us that the German Border was only about 5 minutes away. SO GUESS WHAT? Off to Germany we went in an WWII Jeep. Over the border and we drove into Germany for a few miles in the jeep. So I can now say I was in Germany in a GI jeep. How cool is that. And I have pictures
Our escort then took us back into Nijmegen and over the Waal River bridge in the jeep. That was awesome, too. And yes, I have pictures. We cruised across the bridge, windshield down of course, and back again into Nijmegen.
After we were dropped off, I was picked up by Martijn. Martijn is a young guy that knew Paul Miller. Paul was a medic with the 506th and he met Martijn on his last trip to Europe. Paul died about 4 years ago but Martijn and I communicated via email and made plans to get together for the evening. I went to the home of his girlfriend, Cindy, and his 2 year old daughter. We had a blast and I got to see "The Attic" of GI stuff that Martijn has collected. It was a very nice collection and I enjoyed an evening of WWII talk, beer and barbecue. What more could I ask for? After dinner, Martijn mentioned that he knew the exact spot where the E Co. of the 506th completed their charge during the Operation Market Garden. Without hesitation we headed off to the spot. It was awesome. We parked our car at the German machine position and looked down the dike to the position Easy and walked over the ground they charged to the German position. What a rush. I saw the spot Captain Winters stood and opened fired on the Germans. Yes, I got pictures including a small monument to honor that feat. As it was after 9:30pm, we headed back to the hotel and I had Martijn meet a few of our vets. He was thrilled. I really enjoyed my time with him and Cindy. They were wonderful hosts. And I would love to visit and spend more time with them.
Late night to bed, after 12 midnight and a busy day tomorrow. It is hard to explain all the feelings as I meet and discuss these vets' stories. It is getting better every day.