WWII Museum in Belgium Welcomes the 1000th ANG Visitor

  • Published
  • By Tom Esser
Servicemembers from the 161st Maintenance Group, Phoenix, had the opportunity to visit the Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, Belgium and the Memorial Remember Museum '39-'45, located near the cemetery, during a recent deployment to Geilenkirchen, Germany March 20.

The Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery and Memorial contains the graves of 7,992 members of the U.S. military who died in World War II. The 57 acre cemetery and memorial is located northwest of the Walloon village of Henri-Chapelle and is one of three American war cemeteries in Belgium.

The Memorial Remember Museum 39-45's existence originates from when Belgium was occupied by the German Army during World War II and subsequently liberated by the U.S. Army on September 11, 1944 by the 1st Infantry Division. With winter approaching, U.S. soldiers took a break on a farm that had been converted into a staging area for over 110 soldiers. After three weeks, they were ordered to the south to engage in the Battle of the Bulge. In their rush to redeploy, many of their personal items were left behind. Marcel Schmetz, whose parents owned the farm, and an 11 year old farm boy, kept the items in memory of those who had left. In 1991, Marcel established the Remember Museum displaying the items.

The 161st servicemembers first visited the cemetery and then continued on to the museum. During the visit at the museum, Senior Airman Herbert Batista, aircraft structural repair journeyman, was the 1000th Air National Guard visitor to the museum.

As the 1000th ANG visitor, Airman Batista was presented with a letter of appreciation. The text of the letter reads as follows:

SRA Herbert Batista, Arizona ANG was the 100oth Air National Guard visitor to the Remember Museum 39-45 from the NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany. Herbert came to us through volunteer tour guide Tom E. Esser, Lt. Col GE A ret. We are very pleased that 88 groups from 19 US States have shown interest in our activity and your own US military history. The additional visit of the Henri-Chapelle American Military Cemetery in our vicinity is most appropriate to demonstrate the sacrifice of your "Great Generation", the US Forces that liberated Belgium in September 1944. We'd like to thank you for your visit and look forward to continuing our good relationship with different Air National Guard units deployed to the NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen in Germany.

The Air National Guard has been supporting NATO air refueling operations at NATO Air Base Geilenkirchen, Germany since January, 1993.