First veterans arrive for Bulge memorial
9 December 2004, BRUSSELS – A group of American war veterans flew into Belgium on Thursday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Bulge at Bastogne.
9 December 2004
BRUSSELS – A group of American war veterans flew into Belgium on Thursday to mark the 60th anniversary of the Battle of Bulge at Bastogne.
In total, 225 Americans - veterans and members of their families - are due to visit the Ardennes for commemorations being organised between 16-18 December.
A second group flies in on 11 December.
La Libre Belgique reported that the men were flown into the military airport Melsbroek on an airbus piloted by the Belgian army.
For many of the veterans, it was the first time they had visited Europe since the Battle of the Bulge in 1944 when 500,000 Americans fought the Nazis.
In the winter of 1944, along with 55,000 British soldiers, they faced 600,000 German soldiers in fighting in Belgium and Luxembourg in December and January.
During the battle 19,000 Americans were killed and a further 62,000 injured.
This month’s commemorations have been planned by the Belgian Embassy in Washington and a veterans committee.
On Wednesday, the head of the committee, Earle Hart, who fought in the Third Army of General George Patton, was decorated with the Order of King Leopold.
“We realise how lucky we are that we weren’t killed,” said 79-year-old Hart.
“We are still alive today and surrounded by our families, thanks to God. But we know that we could so easily have been buried beneath a marble plaque long ago.”
On 16 December, ceremonies will be held in Bastogne and in Luxembourg.
On 18 December, the veterans will parade at Bastogne before moving to Mardasson where King Albert II will lay a commemorative stone.
[Copyright Expatica 2004]
Subject: Belgian news