The veterans and university students loaded up the bus and headed to a village that Maggie and his men had parachuted near and walked into.
The dike we are on has a cornfield on one side and homes and buildings on the other. Guadelupe was coming down the way and I snapped a photo and looked at the image and said, Whoa! “Matt, what happened to your Granddad’s eye?” The automatic doors at the hotel can be tricky and Guadelupe walked into a door as it was opening, which nearly had gotten me, too. “I think he needs to go to the hospital,” I said. Guadelupe wasn’t going to roll like that. Later I told Matt that it would be easy to call a doctor and ask the doctor to come. This is the Netherlands. All is possible here. But apparently Guadelupe didn’t have time for bleeding. More on that later.
Dutch people were coming out of the woodwork to talk with the vets. We were heading to a special house and a family rolled up in several cars.
The kids had sunflowers which made the photo of the day.
Maggie received more than 25 medals, including the Distinguished Service Cross, 2 Silver Stars, 2 Bronze Stars, 2 Purple Hearts and was recommended/nominated for the Medal of Honor for actions at Herresbach, Belgium on 28 January 1945. During this important remembrance, Maggie also received a Medal of Honor from the Mayor of the City of Nijmegen.
U.S. Paratroopers had arrived to deliver some airmail packages to the enemy.
After the jump during World War II, Maggie came to this house. One of the Dutchmen would say today that he remembered Maggie showing up with a pistol in his hand, saying, “Where are the Germans and how many are there?”
And so the family gave Maggie an old photo of the same house with a piece of parachute from that day, and they said “Thank you for liberating us.”
They gave Maggie a photo with some important words, which were captured by a Dutch television crew. It aired that night.
A Dutch woman explained how the Nazis had taken everything they could find, even their bicycles. But Maggie said after his soldiers parachuted in, the Dutch had stuff hidden everywhere, including weapons, vehicles, motorbikes and the works. They started hauling it out to help with the fight. He said the well-organized Dutch underground was delivering the most important weapon of all: intelligence. The Dutch had been keeping close tabs on the Germans and began unloading the info, which was the key to the kingdom.
Carole Megellas is Maggie’s better half, and I realized on the first day that she is actually the commander. (No kidding.) In fact, Carole is the one who has been reading this site and getting the mailouts. We talked every day. She was always in the background but she is running the show.
A family worth fighting for. They talked about their lives and it sounded like after liberation they made the best of life and liberty.
The older ones are gone and the younger ones are old.
On the way out, some school kids were riding by with teachers. The vets and the kids were all waving at each other.
Like it was all just yesterday, fighting in these fields.
We loaded back on the bus and headed to a drop zone where re-enactors started jumping out of airplanes, including these two who collided just in front of me.
No broken bodies that time.
Barely missed the trees.
One of the C-47s had blown an engine so re-enactors, ironically, had to rent German-owned Russian biplanes for the jumps.
A parachute landed nearby.
A crowd swarmed around.
This veteran had jumped tandem. He was going to turn 90 in a few days. Actually, two veterans jumped at Overasselt. Unfortunately the other got a severe concussion and a broken shoulder.
Thousands of people had turned out, though the big jump was next morning where some people believed that maybe 50 to 100 thousand spectators showed up. While I talked with some active duty soldiers and vets, time slipped away and so did my bus. Our hotel was about 40 miles away. A policeman said the taxi might cost $300! I hitched and an elderly lady stopped immediately and drove about twenty minutes to Nijmegen Train Station. She was very friendly and happy to see the veterans come back.