12 October 2018, Johan and I attended the annual Stichting Never Forget Them Airborne Commemoration in Heteren. This was my third year to attend. It is held at the 101st Monument close to the Crossroads, just behind where 506th PIR Bernard Tom was KIA on 9 October 1944.
I have been researching Bernie for more than a year and writing his book. His family gave Johan his letters and some from family & friends. I hope to release the book at the 75th Anniversary of Operation Market Garden in 2019. Bernie jumped into Holland and fought here for a few weeks before he was killed. Since much of my client work is not for airborne, but other units within the Army, Navy, Army Air Forces, Marines, and Coast Guard, researching Bernie’s records have been interesting.
The commemoration in Heteren was basically the same as the last three years. The founder, Martin Veggelers read a speech as he does each year. The mayor spoke. School children read poems. Sadly, doves were not released this year. I wonder if that was due to the fact that there was a firing party that fired a salute. I guess the noise would have scared the doves. The usual wreaths were laid by the foundation, the town, various groups, and school children laid poems and flowers by the monument. Last Post was played and of course the American and Dutch National Anthems as the flags were raised.
This year, on The Island, near Crossroads and the monument, is an enormous WWII re-enactment camp. Johan and I visited Friday afternoon for a few hours. Men were still setting things up, re-enactors still arriving after a week of work, but for the most part, there was a lot to see. I took a short tour and then spent some time talking to a lot of people. Apparently word had gotten out I was going to be there and several people were waiting to speak with me. That is always nice. I met old friends and new ones and gave a lot of research advice. I wonder how many more stories will be told now.
© 2018 World War II Research & Writing Center