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80th Division Memorial Monuments

 

From our good friend Virgil Myers, of Co. G, 317th Regiment, 80th Division, comes the following:

 

80th Division Monument At Pintsch, Luxembourg

 

80th Division Monument At Pintsch, Luxembourg

 

80th Division Monument At Dillengen, Luxembourg

 

80th Division Monument At Dillengen, Luxembourg

 

80th Division Monument At Heiderscheid, Luxembourg

 

80th Division Monument At Heiderscheid, Luxembourg

 

Monument To S/Sgt. Day Turner at Dahl, Luxembourg, Where He Died Earning His Congressional Medal Of Honor

 

Monument To S/Sgt. Day Turner at Dahl, Luxembourg, Where He Died Earning His Congressional Medal Of Honor

 

80th Division Monument At Biersdorf Germany in honor of Vic Mueller of the 317th Regiment

 

Luxembourg – American Friendship Week

June 19 – June 24, 2007

 

The following comments are presented by G. Virgil Myers, Co. G 317 Reg. 80th Division.  This is a summary of our trip to Luxembourg June 2007 where we took part in the annual “Luxembourg – American Friendship Week’s Celebrations”.  This annual series of Veterans celebrations are planned and sponsored by “The U.S. Veterans Friends Organization of Luxembourg” to honor those American Veterans that fought in “The Battle of the Bulge” and others that helped free Luxembourg from the Nazi forces.

 

Tuesday, June 19, 2007 – Bobbie and I arrived at the Luxembourg City Airport at 11:10 am by Northwest and KIM via Amsterdam.  Waiting for our arrival at the terminal was Constant Goergan, Marco Eifes, Renee Schlosser and Denise Thill.  This group makes an exerted effort to meet every person coming to Luxembourg by plane or train for this week’s celebrations.  We were transported to the Euro Hotel in Gonderange, Luxembourg just 15 minutes from the airport where we rested and napped that afternoon to ease the jet lag we normally feel after the long flight to Luxembourg City. 

 

At 7:00 p.m. the U.S. Veteran’s Friends had a welcome reception at the Euro Hotel for all visitors.  Snacks, drinks and programs for the week were given out.  Nametags and a lot of pictures were taken.  Everyone had a chance to get acquainted.  We were told an air-conditioned bus would pick us up the next day at 1:00 p.m. sharp and for us to be sure to get our sleep for it is a long afternoon.

 

Wednesday, June 20, 2007 – To start this week’s celebrations we were met at the hotel by a modern high profile air-conditioned bus furnished to the group by the U.S.V.F. at no cost to the group for the whole time we were there.  Everyone was ready to board the bus 15 minutes before time to leave.  Christian was our driver again this year.  He can drive the big bus better than most people can drive a jeep.  It was a comfortable, safe and enjoyable way to tour Luxembourg all week.  The group of 57 people had a ball together. 

 

The 80th IT Inf. Division Headquartered in Virginia was so cooperative.  General Evans dispatched 6 color guards, a bugler, a photographer and 2 staff people to direct the soldiers and carry out their responsibilities while attending the celebrations.  They displayed the colors and the 80th flag along with the 80th battle streamers at every monument we stopped at to honor during the celebrations. 

 

We had a grand tour of Luxembourg City.  We visited the old city and the old forts built in the cliffs that surround the entire old city.  They took us through the new part where the European General Secretariate of the European Parliament holds court, the European court of Justice and the Court of Auditors all have high rise new buildings, schools for their children and apartments all newly built.  There are 228 international banks located in Luxembourg City.

 

After the tour of the city we visited the Foundation Pescatore Building where General Patton had his headquarters from December through March.  This is where his famous prayer of the Battle of the Bulge was written.  Copies of Patton’s prayer are always available in the chapel there.  General Patton’s granddaughter, Helen Patton- Plusczyk read the prayer as she said she thought her grandfather would have said it.  Medal of Honors for all Veterans and family members for KIA Veterans were given out at the Pescatore Chapel to all those that had never received it before.  Next we were taken to the office of the Luxembourg City Mayor who is also a Member of Parliament.  We had refreshments and the mayor thanked the veterans for what we did during WWII for her country. 

 

At 6:00 p.m. we arrived at Hamm Cemetery where we had the showing of the colors, and flowers were placed for the unknown soldiers in the cemetery chapel.  The American Ambassador, Ann Wagner, gave a greeting to everyone visiting Luxembourg and especially the WWII Veterans.  The color guard and bugler were the high point of the celebration.

 

At 7:15 p.m. we arrived at the Oetrang Culture Center where certain American, Luxembourg, German and Belgium people were presented “The Chapel of Four Chaplain Certificates”.  This ceremony was followed by a beautiful banquet prepared by the people of Oetrang, Luxembourg.  We arrived at the hotel at 11:00 p.m.  What a day!

 

Thursday, June 21, 2007 – This morning the bus picked us up at 9:30 a.m. and took us to Dudeldange, Luxembourg located on the Luxembourg- French border directly south of the Luxembourg City about 35 kilometers south of our hotel.  The first thing on the schedule was the dedication of a new monument to U.S. Soldiers who fought in the Dudeldange area in WWII.  The American Ambassador, Ann Wagner, helped dedicate the new monument along with the color guard and bugler who did a stellar job even though we were having a rain shower at the time.

 

We were all invited to the City Hall for refreshments of all kinds.  While there, the city presented a program in the council room honoring all the American Veterans that were there.  The names of all veterans were shown on a screen throughout the program.  We were all presented with a nice book about Dudeldange, pictures of the war torn city during WWII and today.

 

 Lunch, more like a banquet, was served at the Parc Le’ H” restaurant.  After lunch we left for Fort Hackenberg located on the northeastern section of “The Maginot Line” about 30 kilometers east of Thionville in the rolling country side of the Frances’ top farming area.  The Hackenberg fortification is one of the biggest structures in the entire maginot line.  The fort covers over 440 acres underground.  After a two hour tour of the fortification we went to the entrance park area where we dedicated a monument to the U.S. WWII soldier.  This was an American G.I. carved out of tan lime stone over 7’ tall.  The French had a 30 man flag group, along with our color guard and bugler which made a very colorful ceremony.  The French and American anthems’ were sung by all.  We ended the evening program with a tremendous banquet in Veckering, France.  We were served by the 1944 Moselle River Association, many whom dressed as WWII soldiers.  What a long day.

 

Friday, June 22, 2007 – At 9:30 a.m. we boarded the bus for the Village of Cinqfontaines, Luxembourg located in the extreme northwest part of Luxembourg.  We traveled over a lot of Luxembourg’s beautiful rolling hills that we fought in during “The Battle of the Bulge” plus miles of the prime farm land in Luxembourg.  Wheat, barley, corn and pastures filled with dairy and fat beef animals.  During the week you travel over about every section of Luxembourg in a comfortable bus; north, east, west, south and into France this year.

 

 In Cinqfontaines we paid tribute to the Jewish people that were interned at the concentration camp there in 1939- 1942.  It was a satellite camp for Auschwitz, but was closed after a little over two years due to the small number of Jewish people in that area of Luxembourg and Belgium.  The color guard and bugler made it a very moving ceremony.  The echoes of the bugler’s music could be heard from the deep valleys below where the camp was which made it a very memorable stop on our schedule. 

 

From there we traveled to the town hall of Wincrange where we were treated to refreshments and short talks by the mayor of the areas villages.  We then went to a local restaurant for lunch.  There was enough food for a hard working thrashing crew.  The amount of food consumed by our group was amazing.  Everything served was delicious.

 

Our next stop was in the Village of Pintsch about 12 miles northeast of Wiltz, located in an area of deep ravines, steep hills and covered with big pine forest.  It looked much different than it did in January of 1945.  Five villages went together and erected a monument in honor of the 317 Regiment that freed those villages from the Nazi in a severe fight for the area.  The monument is standing just outside a walled cemetery rear the front of the chapel there.  On Thursday, June 21, Dan Fleming and his family were taken from Dudeldange to Pintsch (about 50 miles) so he could take part in a dedication of the monument sponsored by C.E.B.A. whose president is Camille Kohn.  Dan had fought with the 317 Regiment Co. K and had used the buildings near the monument as cover as they fought the Germans to take the town.  Around 200 local people were at the dedication of the monument.  Dan again related to our group his experience on that day in 1945 when he fought there.  It is a beautiful remembrance of the 317 Regiment men.  The color guard and bugler set the stage for a memorable stop in Pintsch, Luxembourg.

 

From there our next stop was to Eschweiler for a memorial to the 28th Inf. Division and George Morgenthaler who was killed in the woods close by.  The church was heavily damaged during the war.  George’s parents paid the entire bill for having the church rebuilt.  The local priest and George became good friends when the 28th Division spent several weeks in and near Eschweiler.  The village people treated our group to a very nice reception followed by another bountiful meal only the Luxembourg people can provide you.  We headed back to the hotel after another full day of scenery, food and wonderful people. 

 

Saturday, June 23, 2007, National Holiday – This was dress up day.  Formal dress, medals, ties, hats for the ladies if they wanted to wear one because it was the National Holiday and celebration of the Grand Duchy’s birthday.  Each person in our group received a special invitation to attend this celebration in the massive Notre Dame Cathedral in Luxembourg City.  Our group of ordinary Americans were the only people in the entire cathedral that were not either an ambassador of some foreign country, embassy people working in Luxembourg, CEO’s of major companies, heads of international banks or military officers from countries invited to send representatives.  The average citizens of Luxembourg do not get to attend the ceremony the first day.  They have an exact duplicate ceremony the next day for Luxembourg people.  Anyone is welcome to attend, first come first admitted in casual wear.

 

The ceremony lasted almost an hour of songs, prayers and music.  It is one of the most impressive ceremonies I have ever witnessed.  Everyone in the cathedral had to have an invitation.  Their seat was designated by row, number and name.  The Royal Family entered the cathedral last.  Everyone stood in respect.  When the ceremony was completed everyone stood as the Royal Family left first. 

 

After all the dignitaries had left the church and their driver had picked them up, our bus was allowed to pull up and we all loaded aboard and were on our way to Boulaide, a small village just south of Bastogne on the Belgium Luxembourg border.  The 35th Division fought over the hills and valley near this village for days until they finally drove the Germans out.  Captain Hank Harrington of the 35th Division lead an infantry company near here and dedicated the new monument placed at the church in the middle of the village.  After the dedication ceremony the people of Boulaide served us an outstanding meal and a delicious dessert. 

 

Around 4:30 p.m. we were leaving the west side of Luxembourg and headed to Dillengen, Luxembourg located all the way across Luxembourg on the Luxembourg-German border.  It was a beautiful trip with scenery to spare everywhere.  We arrived to the location about 500 yards north of the Village of Dillengen along the west banks of the Sauer River where the 318th Regiment and the 2nd Bn. of 317 Regiment crossed the river February 7, 1945 into German territory.  

 

Waiting for us were around 150 local people to share in the dedication of this beautiful monument.  The color guard again displayed their professional talent and the bugler music reverberated along the cliffs of the Sauer giving you cold chills to watch the color guard perform and hear the music of Taps in the setting. 

 

General Evans and I were asked to remove the big Luxembourg flag after comments were made by different Luxembourg officials.  We removed the flag to reveal a huge monument erected by the people of Dillengen after retired Col. John Parker and George Daubenfeld approached the village council with the idea for a monument where units of the 80th Division crossed the Sauer.  They met several times with the village to make sure all historical facts were confirmed.  When they gave approval for the monument, John and George contacted Fernando Zen who designed the monument and the brass plaque at no cost.  He has many other monuments in Luxembourg to show is appreciation for what the U.S. Veterans did in WWII.  

 

I was asked to describe the crossing of the Sauer River since my company G was involved in that crossing.  The dedication of the new monument has been one of the high lights of the celebration so far.  After my comments, General Evans made his comments, thanking the Luxembourg people for their hospitality toward our veterans and how the color guard, bugler and staff officers appreciated being asked to come to represent the 80th Inf. Division at all the ceremonies.  You would have been proud of the comments made by General Evans each day at each ceremony where his men presented the colors and taps.  He said the right thing at the right time and said just enough that he was a big hit with the Luxembourg people. 

 

Following the dedication the people of Dillengen served us another super banquet, wine and all.  Another long day but it was a great one. 

 

Sunday, June 24, 2007 – This morning we left the hotel at 8:15 a.m. because we had a full day on the schedule.  Our first stop was at the 80th Division monument located in a drive thru park just west of Heiderscheid along Hwy N-15 that runs east to west from Ettelbruck to Bastogne. 

 

The 80th  Division color guard presented the colors as Veterans of the 80th Division WWII placed flowers at the monument and the bugler played taps in honor of those 80th Division men that didn’t return home from WWII.  It was a beautiful display of respect by everyone there.  General Evans completed the ceremony with just the right comments for the time and place.  The area around Heiderscheid was where the 80th Division fought most of its toughest battles during the Bulge.  After many pictures were taken around the monument and of the beautiful countryside it is located in, we were on our way to Dahl.

 

At Dahl a special mass was held for American soldiers who lost their lives during “The Battle of the Bulge”.  The color guard entered the church and proceeded to the very front right side and stood at attention during the entire mass without moving a muscle.  It was a moving and beautiful ceremony.

 

After mass we went to the Michael Lenners farm where S/Sgt. Day Turner’s monument is located.  Sgt. Turner earned the nation’s highest honor, the Congressional Medal of Honor.  The large brass plaque on the monument is a replica of Sgt. Turner’s medal.  As the ceremony started the color guard again displayed the colors and the flags of Luxembourg and the U.S.A. were raised at the same time on twin 24’ flag poles.  These flags are raised everyday by Michael Lenners or someone in his family.  After taps was played by a Luxembourg civilian, the 80th Division bugler played the echo.  Then the national anthems of Luxembourg and America were sung by everyone.  The story of S. Sgt. Day Turner’s experience at the farmhouse was related so the first time visitors to Luxembourg would know how he earned his Congressional Medal of Honor.

 

Michael had barbequed several different meats and the ladies had made tables of vegetables, salads, pies and many other items.  Any kind of drink was available.  Michael and his wife were presented a plaque by the office of the American Ambassador to Luxembourg for what they have done over the years looking after Sgt. Turner’s monument. 

 

After lunch I took Nell Vass of Virginia and three others in her family to the location north of Kehman and south of the Village of Dirbach on the mountain side west of Bourscheid where her father was killed in January 1945.  The group of WWII enactment soldiers from the area took us there in WWII jeeps, command car and a 6x6 truck.  Nell and her family had never been back to Luxembourg since her father was killed in action.  It was a very emotional moment for the family when they realized they were in the general area that John M. Thurman, Co. E., Reg. was killed on January 21, 1945.  I am sure that area will be remembered by the U.S.V.F. in the future.

 

We loaded on the bus about 4:00 p.m. to go back to the Euro Hotel for our farewell banquet served by the Luxembourg Government.  As we passed through Goesdorf we had a short stop at the monument of Private Alfred Echerverry who as killed in action with 319 Reg.  A second stone is in honor of all WWII orphans.

 

At 7:00 p.m. we all were seated at the Euro Hotel for our farewell greetings.  The food was out of this world.  Comments were made by many of those that attended the weeklong celebrations.  General Evans presented the General’s 80th Division coin to all Veterans and many of the Luxembourg hosts.  His comments to the people of Luxembourg and to we fellow 80th Veterans were appreciated by everyone for he was a great ambassador for the 80th Division.  The Luxembourg people confirmed that with a standing ovation after his comments.

 

Tomorrow most will return home.  This year we had a variety of visitors to the U.S.V.F. week.  WWII Veterans, wives, sons, daughters and relatives of those killed in action, historians and two people writing a book on the action of the 80th Division in WWII.  All but three of we 80th Division visitors were first time visitors to the U.S.V.F. celebrations.  They all said the trip was much more than they ever expected and many said they plan to return next year. 

 

If you have an interest in attending the 2008 U.S.V.F. celebrations, I will be glad to help you in any way I can with information on the trip.  The celebrations will begin on June 18th and will end with a going away banquet on the 24th of June evening.  You should plan to arrive in Luxembourg City on Tuesday June 17th.  That evening at 7 P.M. in the Euro Hotel where you are all staying they will have a get acquainted gathering for all taking in the Celebrations.  There will be refreshments. You will receive your name tags, and a schedule outlining what will take place each day.  You should plan to get your Flight from the USA for the evening flight on the 16th. Most all flights leave for overseas from the overseas Air Port around 5 to 6:30 depending where you fly from.  You should not plan to get your return flight back to the USA before Wed. June 25th for the evening Banquet on the 24th lasts until 8PM or so.

 

If any one would like more information or if I can help you in any way don't hesitate to contact me.    I will be glad to make your Hotel Reservations once you decide you want to make the Friendship week Trip this next June 2008.

 

Everyone stays at the same Hotel, the EURO Hotel, Gonderange, Luxembourg about 15 minutes from the Air Port.

 

You will not have to worry about Transportation while you are attending the USVF Celebrations.  The USVF's provide an Air Conditioned modern Bus for the Celebrations free.  The Bus picks you up at the Hotel each morning and takes you to the Celebrations each day --stays with you all day--then brings you back to the Hotel each evening.   You have a very busy week.  You will see all parts of Luxembourg.   What a beautiful country it is and you see it in Luxury and don't have to worry about where the next stop is for the bus driver can drive over roads and the mountains where a jeep shouldn't go.

 

Bobbie and I have been to Luxembourg 14 times so I hope I can answer most any question you might have about Luxembourg and the Celebrations. Oh yes!  In 2005 I was designated an HONORARY CITIZEN of LUXEMBOURG that doesn't give any Perks but If I don't know the answers to your questions I know where to go to get the answers.

 

The Celebrations in June 2008 will be 1 extra day more than in past Celebrations.  That is good.  You may contact me at G. Virgil Myers 1-863-686-2121 or email virg2121@yahoo.com.

 

 

 

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