Paying Tribute to Americans in Opijnen
March 2007 Tulip Talk Article
Nancy L. K.-T.
Dutch Memorial Day, Friday, May 4, 2007 at 7:00 p.m.
Anyone who has been an AWCA member in May—any May since 1949—knows our special Memorial Day tradition of laying flowers at the graves of eight American airmen buried in the churchyard cemetery in Opijnen. These men flew in the U.S. Air Force B-17 “Man-O-War” which was shot down July 30, 1943 above Opijnen, near the Waal River, after a successful combat mission over Germany. Only the pilot, Keene McCammon, and copilot, John Bruce, survived. Although McCammon passed away in 2003, Bruce leads an active life in Orlando and joined many guests May 4, 2004 at the special Opijnen memorial service that also included Bruce and retired Mayor Jansen unveiling street signs in the new housing development, ’t Zandpad, that are named for the ten airmen. Even more dramatic and memorable, was the May 4, 2006 unveiling of the impressively creative commemorative monument on McCammonplein by John Bruce and Bonney Jean McCammon, widow of pilot Keene McCammon, who were joined by many of their family members who traveled from the United States for the occasion. You can read more about Opijnen by visiting www.awca.nl and clicking on the History-Opijnen link.
While the Bruce and McCammon families will not be with us this year on Friday, May 4, 2007, there will be special visitors from the U.S., specifically, the Hauschild siblings and their spouses. Their mother was the second cousin of “Man-O-War” airman, George Krueger. They grew up as neighbors to Krueger’s sister, who still lives in Maine.
This year marks the 62nd anniversary of the liberation of the Netherlands. You, your family, friends and neighbors are invited to join the people of Opijnen, the AWCA, the U.S. Consulate General, and our special representative from the 91st Bomb Group Memorial Association to honor these eight men—and all—who gave their lives so that we may live in freedom and peace. The evening will commence at 7:00 p.m. with a reception in the church social hall, after which we’ll process at 7:30 p.m. to the cemetery to lay flowers, hear the church bell ring, and observe the national two minutes of silence at 8:00 p.m. Then, for those who are interested, we’ll walk 300 meters to ’t Zandpad and see the street signs and McCammonplein monument by local artist, Joris Baudoin. The evening will conclude at 8:30 p.m.
Driving Directions: The small village of Opijnen is located southeast of Amsterdam on the north bank of the Waal River, near Zaltbommel. The drive from Amsterdam can take 1.5 hours. Allow plenty of time because this road is notorious for traffic jams and delays. Take the A2 south from Utrecht, then exit 16 – Waardenburg (the last exit before crossing the Waal River). At the end of the exit ramp by McDonalds, turn left. At the first traffic circle, go left, following the sign to Neerijnen and later, to Opijnen. The church is in the middle of the village. Thanks for arriving on time at 7:00 p.m.