17th Airborne Division ceremony at the Margraten cemetery November 11, 2007

279 young soldiers who served with the 17th Airborne Division found their final resting place at the Netherlands American cemetery at Margraten. They gave their lives so we can our lives as we do in a modern, free, democratic and Peaceful Europe. Dutch adopters of the graves of these paratroopers will gather at the Margraten cemetery at Sunday November 11 to honour the men of the 17th Airborne Division.

December 31 will be the last day of the existence of the 17th Airborne Division Association in the United States. The veteran members of the Association and their families have kept alive the memories of their fallen comrades in arms for more than 60 years. But the number of surviving veterans is diminishing as old age, ill-health and death take their toll. Memories of an horrific era more than 60 years ago are fading away. The Association has decided to end it's activities as of December 31 2007.

To prevent this moment to pass unnoticed, adopters of Margraten 17th Airborne graves have initiated the plans for a ceremonial at the cemetery to honour the men of the 'Thunder from Heaven' Division

The ceremony will start at 11:11 h. with a wreath laying.

Pierre Ackermans, Jos Bex, Joseph Bisscheroux, Frank Bontje, Luc Horck, John Smeets, Joe and Flory Somers


A thank you letter from the 17th Airborne Division Association to the Dutch adopters

Click image to enlarge

In spite of the cold and wet weatherconditions a considerable number of people gathered in the chapel of the Netherlands American Cemetery at Margraten for the ceremony in honor of the men of the 17th Airborne Division. In the following an impression of pictures is given.

Due to the bad weatherconditions the ceremony was held at the Chapel of the cemetery, where everyone gathered at 11.11 h
Ceremonial guidance was given by Mr. Jos Bex of the Dutch 17th Airborne association

A warm welcome was given by the cemetery´s Superintendent Mr. Michael S. Yasenchak, later he
gave away a ´goosebump´ performance of both the Dutch national anthem and the U.S. national anthem

Special guestspeaker was Lt. Col. P. Calbos, U.S. Military attache to the Netherlands
A few words by Mr. Pierre Ackermans, adopter since the waning days of the war
A 17th Airborne veteran´s tribute as read by the youngest adopter of a 17th ABD grave, 15 year old Wesley Haex
Chairman of the Foundation Adoption Graves American Cemetery Margraten, Mrs. Fien Opreij-Bendermacher had some thoughtful words
Adopter John Smeets reads the words as written down by a 17th Airborne veteran
The ceremony ended with the placing of a 17th Airborne Division wreath at the Chapel
Brothers in arms for life and beyond
After the ceremony the opportunity was taken to meet and have a chat
Adrian Leist Caldwell, proud daughter of SSGT Leroy E. Leist, talking to Bert Caris, webmaster of Fallen But Not Forgotten
Adrian Leist Caldwell, Lt. Col. P. Calbos, Adrian's husband Robert Caldwell and WWII veteran T.C. Gibbs