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    Old Hickory Veterans travel to the Netherlands to Celebrate 75th Anniversary of Liberation

    Old Hickory Veterans travel to the Netherlands to Celebrate 75th Anniversary of Liberation

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Mary Junell | George Hamm, a WWII Veterans who served with the 30th Infantry Division, holds a flag...... read more read more

    MAASTRICHT, NETHERLANDS

    09.23.2019

    Story by Staff Sgt. Mary Junell 

    North Carolina National Guard

    North Carolina National Guard Soldiers escorted four WWII veterans and their families to participate in the 75th Anniversary celebrations in the Limburg Province of the Netherlands, September 11-17, 2019.

    The veterans served in the 30th Infantry Division, known as Old Hickory, and helped liberate Belgium and the Netherlands from German occupation in September of 1944.

    Throughout the week the Old Hickory veterans were honored with ceremonies, dinners, hugs, and an old fashioned ticker-tape parade through the city of Maastricht.

    Although the Soldiers and WWII veterans enjoyed all of the festivities, the smaller, more personal moments are what they were honored to be a part of.

    “The most emotional part for me was when George Ham visited the spot where his battle buddy was killed,” said Maj. Kevin Hinton, the deputy commander for the NCNG’s Recruiting and Retention Battalion. “George served in Charlie Company, 120th Infantry Regiment, 30th Infantry Division and that’s who I served with in Iraq in 2004.”

    Hinton, who is currently the vice president of the 30th Infantry Division Association, said he felt a connection to what the WWII veteran was going through.

    “Part of George’s emotion is that he was supposed to be that guy, but he switched positions,” Hinton said. “There’s probably some survivor’s guilt on his part, and I’ve been there. I understand that feeling.”

    The N.C. Guard Soldiers were all veterans of the same unit, having served in Iraq with the now reorganized 30th Armored Brigade Combat Team, and acted as representatives of the Guard and the 30th Infantry Division Association, a membership group for veterans of the unit.

    The trip impacted not only the 30th Inf. Div. veterans, but also the currently serving Soldiers who were part of the liberation celebrations.

    “It gives value to my own sense of service and what I’m doing now by serving,” said Col. Wes Morrison, the North Carolina Army National Guard Chief of Staff. “I see that folks appreciate, across the world, what the United States Army has done for the world at different times. Your service means something and it means something to not just Americans, but people across the world.”

    The group was able to visit the same places where the 30th Infantry Division fought back the German occupation and other places where they were able to rest after almost 90 days of being on the front lines.

    One of those places was the Rolduc Abbey in Kerkrade, which was used as a rest center for Soldiers after the area was liberated. While there, some of the current Soldiers took a photo in the same courtyard where a formation of Old Hickory Soldiers took a photo 75 years ago.

    Hinton hoped that this trip would help build a bond between the new generation of Old Hickory veterans and the people of the Limburg province in order to continue the tradition into the future.

    “It’s a part of the history of the 30th and the North Carolina National Guard,” Hinton said. “We need to educate our young Soldiers on the history of what the 30th has done. When the WWII veterans are long gone, the U.S. and the Netherlands will still exist and we have to maintain this and remember what they did. Like someone said in one of the speeches, the beginnings of the European Union started with the liberation and the desire for Europe to never go through that again.”

    As the Soldiers, veterans, and their families prepared to travel home, many were heard to say “see you in five years,” anticipating the celebrations for the 80th anniversary of the liberation.

    Even though the WWII veterans may no longer be able to make the trip, Morrison thought it was important that the tradition continues.

    “If we honor the veterans of the past, we bring more value to the service that we have today,” Morrison said. “You wear the uniform in the current unit, you're wearing Old Hickory. You now have the responsibility of that lineage and history of that unit on your back. We can’t let them down. The history they created here, the high bar, high standard for performance of duty and what they did here, 75 years ago is something we have to keep in the back of our minds all the time.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.23.2019
    Date Posted: 09.23.2019 15:16
    Story ID: 343122
    Location: MAASTRICHT, NL 

    Web Views: 383
    Downloads: 2

    PUBLIC DOMAIN