Battlefield Tour and the Liberation Museum
Trip Start May 27, 2009
28Trip End Jun 11, 2009
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Where I stayed
I took quite a few photos and I will post pictures of the museum for all of you. The last part of the museum was the Hall of Honor. It is a round room that includes the names of all that gave their life for the taking back of the Netherlands. A pretty sombering place.
As I sat in that hall I struck up a conversation with Daryl Whitfield. He was a 505 vet with the 82nd. As we talked and he shared some stories about his time in the service, including telling me about him being in combat right here in Holland, a weird feeling came over me that many of the men I am with were right here, during combat and saw many of their friends killed and wounded right here where I am walking. Wow! Cannot get that opportunity with Civil War vets anymore. And it made me realize why we need to hear their stories and we need to hear them now.
As I talked to Daryl, I realized that I am talking to a man with 4 jump stars on his wings. Sicily, Salerno, Normandy and Holland. Imagine surviving 4 combat jumps. And I am sitting here with this man. Just hard to believe.
We left the museum for lunch in Groesbeek. A very nice restaurant but we ate a weird meal. It was a croquet filled with this weird meat. It looked like a piece of poop but actually tasted pretty good. Sorry about that, but true.
After lunch we headed out to see even more drop zones of the 504th We stopped to visit the old city wall and tour the park that was there. We walked through the park to a old building that was built in 1150 and part of it was still standing. Part of it was recycled from an old Roman building and they used an old Roman Column. The City of Nijmegen was first started by the Romans and was part of the Roman Empire. Over here, things are 1000's of years old as compared in the states, they are 100's of years old. It is pretty incredible.
When I returned to the bus, Daryl said to me that "I fought up this way through the town and when the battle ended I ended up in this park. Over on this intersection was a German 88mm gun that kept us occupied until it was taken out." Holy Cow! He was here crawling through a slit trench ducking an 88mm. Holy Cow! Amazing.
After we left the park, we headed out of town to the Grave Bridge
I also saw the drop zones of the 504th and I have a picture of a home where a 504 vet went through the thatched roof and landed on the dinner table where the family was eating Sunday afternoon meal. Daryl, the comic spoke up and asked how much food the trooper got. Always a comedian.
After leaving the bridge we stopped at a memorial to a temporary grave site of over 600 allied troops that had been buried in that spot but have since been removed.
By this time it was after 6pm and we needed to head to the hotel for dinner. Another long day but very worthwhile.
Tomorrow...............Belgium and Bastogne.