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DeMarcken accompanies Whitehead on tour

During World War II we were under the oppression of the Nazi regime. My father was an American citizen, raised and educated in Chicago IL. He worked for Hammond Organ Ltd. in Brussels, Belgium. As young Americans raised in Belgium, we had to learn Dutch and French.

When the Germans attacked Belgium May 10, 1940, we tried to escape to the States. The Germans were moving too fast. We were caught in France. Dad was sent to a concentration camp because he was an American citizen. The Germans placed a Wehrmacht guard in the house to keep an eye on this American family. I was 13 and the oldest of nine children when Dad was taken away.

Both my wife, who was born a Belgian, and I owe a great deal to our liberators and especially to the families of our heroes, who gave their lives to free us from the Nazi oppression.

As a veteran of the Korean conflict and an Associate of the 99th Infantry Division Association, I present this story of one of the pilgrimages I had the great pleasure to help organize.

I asked our friends, Thelma and Charlie Whitehead, for permission to write these pages and send you a few of the 206 photos I took during these 10 days.

After retiring as an engineer from Norton Company Abrasives, I have devoted my time to helping U.S. veterans who fought in the Battle of the Bulge retrace their steps through Belgium.

It all started as our neighbor asked my wife where she came from. Edward Asselin did not remember the names of the villages he was in during his time in Belgium. He was a member of the 197th AW Bn. of the 49th Anti-Aircraft Artillery. His uniform shows the patch of the 99th Infantry Division.

Come to find out, as the Luftwaffe was obliterated, many members of the anti-aircraft self-propelled units were transferred to the infantry. While searching for Sergeant Edward Asselin's path, I got in contact with Lt. Col. Samuel Lombardo, Charles E. Whitehead, and other members of the 99th.

One thing lead to another and after reading 108 books concerning the Battle of the Bulge and purchasing hundreds of pages of "After Action Reports," I am now more involved than ever.

Jeanne and I meet the most patriotic, hardworking, and honorable senior citizens. We have a wide circle of veteran friends all over the United States.

Christian DeMarcken

244 Richards Ave.

Paxton MA 01612-1121