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    Eerde Remembers

    78th Commemoration of Operation Market Garden in Eerde

    Photo By Capt. Angelo Mejia | U.S. Army musicians from the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Band, play on top...... read more read more

    A day of fog and light rain overhead did not stop nearly 500 guests from coming to 501st Parachute Regiment Geronimo monument for a remembrance ceremony in Eerde, Netherlands Sept. 17, 2022, to pay tribute to the sacrifices made during Operation “Market Garden”.

    Rain started coming down as the Soldiers of the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) gathered in front of the St. Anthony Church, ready to march down the street as their predecessors did 78 years earlier to liberate the town from the Nazis.

    This remembrance marked the 78th anniversary of Operation “Market Garden”, the largest Airborne jump in history. The airborne operation in the town of Eerde near Veghel was one of the first villages to be liberated by the 101st Airborne Division during the operation.

    “The people of Eerde gathered in the church in the morning to pray,” said Mayor Kees van Rooij of Meierijstad. “Messages from France and Belgium made it known that the liberators were on their way. A last stand for freedom, justice and humanity here in Europe and beyond.”

    The day was September 17, 1944 when Paratroopers from the 501st Parachute Regiment Infantry exited the C-47 Aircraft and landed at Eerde. Using a windmill as a lookout post to observe the enemy and call out mortar fires on their positions. The Nazis seeing the Soldiers using the windmill as an observation tower attacked it with artillery. Sgt. Jacob H. Wingard was killed at about 11 o'clock during Operation Market Garden by a German sniper while he was hiding in a windmill as a lookout for directing mortar fire.

    After the destruction of the windmill the 101st Airborne Division moved quickly to St. Anthony Church to fortify the area. 501st PIR knew to maintain the church as an observation post to tip the scales in the favor of the U.S. forces. 1st Lt. Harry Howard, who lead the 1st Battalions 81mm mortar section volunteered. The enemy noticed Howard in the bell tower and directed a tank forward who started to attack the tower with artillery. A few direct hits resulted in Howard losing his balance and tumbling down part of the steps leading up into the tower. His men thought he would be dead and pulled him out of the debris, which covered him. Howard however stood up and asked his men to quickly bring him the American flag. He then went up into the tower and placed the flag in the beaten tower, clearly visible to the Germans as a token of the American firmness to defend the village at all costs. Now every anniversary an American flag flies on the church.

    “Peace is not something we take lightly. And the soldiers join me from the 2nd Brigade Combat Team, the 502nd Infantry Regiment, and 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault), tonight, represent just a small detachment of the American Army’s return to Europe,” said Col. Ed Matthaidess, Commander, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault). “Defending the peace that our WWII heroes worked so hard to secure during the battles we commemorate this weekend. These Screaming Eagle Soldiers embody our commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization, and they’d probably stand next to The Netherlands and the rest of our allies just as they did during WWII, the Cold War, Afghanistan, and Iraq.”

    Hosted by the Airborne Committee of Eerde and the Round Canopy Parachute Team to educate and honor all the men and women who fought for their freedom and to remember that freedom isn’t free, it comes with a cost and we can never forget.

    The crowd gathered around the Geronimo monument, dedicated to the 501st PIR of the 101st Airborne Division, the witnessed the Soldiers of the 101st marching down the street toward the windmill where the monument is placed in honor of all the 501st Soldiers who fought and liberated Eerde from the Germans.

    “I am honored to be with you to pay tribute to the 101st Airborne Division,” said Aleisha Woodward, Charge d’Affaires U.S. Embassy, Netherlands. “The destruction of World War Two did not spell the end for Eerde. The people quite literally came together to build a better future. But even as we gather here together, once again we see clouds of war on the edge of Europe. Just a couple hours flight from here we see the same kind of battle raging in Ukraine. The same kind of battle that all of our brave soldiers were fighting fo right here in The Netherlands in WWII: an autocratic aggressive country is tearing up its neighbor, and pursing conquest through war.”

    Nearly 78 years later, on May 13, 2022, the Department of the Army announced the deployment of the 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault) Headquarters and the 2nd Infantry Brigade Combat Team (Strike) from Fort Campbell, Kentucky back to the European theater. Their mission is to support the U.S. Army V Corps' mission to reinforce NATO’s eastern flank and engage in multinational exercises with partners across the European area of operations in order to reassure our nation’s allies and deter further Russian aggression.

    The 101st Soldiers will remain in the European area staying ready for any threat that jeopardize what their 101st predecessors and Allies fought and died for regaining the freedoms and liberties for the oppressed people of Europe.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 09.17.2022
    Date Posted: 09.26.2022 14:37
    Story ID: 430106
    Location: EERDE, NL
    Hometown: BEST, NL
    Hometown: EINDHOVEN, NL
    Hometown: VEGHEL, NL
    Hometown: FORT CAMPBELL, KENTUCKY, US
    Hometown: FORT CAMPBELL, TENNESSEE, US

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