I had a business trip to
Europe that, due
to customer availability, extended over this past weekend. With the
extra time I decided to drive from Frankfurt south to Darmstadt, my
first “real” assignment in the Army, to see my old stomping/marching
grounds. Found them all – along with the Burger Kings, Wal-marts,
and sports complexes. Some of my memories though were still
emblazoned with “US Army”, but there were some changes or progress
dependent on your point of view. From there I drove over to Weert,
Holland, for my customer meeting. On the way I decided to get off
the autobahn (my diesel-powered Opel Vectra really did not want to
be on the autobahn anyway!) to visit the Hurtgen Forest area – near
Aachen through which I had to drive.
Finally found part of the area – a
small town named Hurtgen, and as driving through the town I saw a
parade of sorts – appeared to be soldiers, firemen, officials, young
children all in uniforms and in formation walking back towards the
town. Went a little further and came upon a large area with several
Germans flags, and I assumed that this was a cemetery. Parked the
car, and saw that it was…
It was really a different feeling
being an American in a cemetery for WWII German soldiers with older
Germans walking around looking/remembering fallen relatives and
friends. This may sound strange to some but as a soldier you still
respect those that have fallen in combat. I assume that the parade
was possibly their Veterans Day, or it may have been a 60th
anniversary memorial for the battle in and around
I had one German husband and wife recognize me as an American (not
hard – I seem to be the only natural red head in country!) and we
tried to talk. I speak little-to-no German and they spoke no
English. However, we soon had instant communication. It was not
hard to make the sign of a tear – they understood and nodded…
There were many, many markers with
“Unbekannter Soldat.” I assume that this means Unnamed Soldier.
Some photos are attached. It seemed a very fitting way to spend a
Then I went back to the town and
saw a large church that had been destroyed during WWII. A few
photos of the town of
are also attached.
I may have seen “Hill 400” but I am
not sure. I would rather have seen it than the German cemetery, but
I could not find it on my Michelin guide, and it was very overcast.
Plus there will lots of wind turbines on several of the hilltops.
Considering the many casualties and loss of life, it seemed sort of
sacrilegious and irreverent to me to be creating energy on ground
that had taken so much.
For the record you have my
permission to pass this email and photos on to any WWII Rangers or
S&D on the mailing list as you see fit and appropriate.