CURT BROWN, Star Tribune [Heroic drop into history
Article by: CURT BROWN , Star Tribune [Minneapolis, MN , October 16,
The Netherlands will honor seven area U.S. Army veterans today for
helping liberate part of southern Holland 65 years ago in a
dangerous mission involving more than 20,000 paratroopers.
It was 65 years, one month and one day ago, but 86-year-olds Harold
Roy and Henry Langevin remember it vividly. "It was bright and sun
shiny, a beautiful day," Roy said. "It was just like a training
Except the Nazis were firing away as Staff Sgts. Roy, Langevin and
more than 20,000 U.S., British and Polish troops parachuted or
floated into southern Holland via gliders on Sept. 17, 1944. Their
mission, known as Operation Market Garden, was aimed at securing a
series of Dutch bridges to help Allied tanks get across the Rhine
and into Germany near the end of World War II.
Today, the Dutch consul general will present Roy, Langevin and five
other members of the 82nd Airborne Division of the U.S. Army with
honorary Orange Lanyards for helping liberate the city of Nijmegen
in the Netherlands from German control. The 11 a.m. ceremony in the
State Capitol rotunda was delayed because the old soldiers' military
records had been destroyed in a fire in St. Louis decades ago.
Langevin, a retired lithographer from Roseville, said he was a
"handcuffed volunteer" when he descended into Holland on a glider
after being towed in from England behind a C-47 plane.
"They let us go, and we were wide open up there, and the landing was
rough," he said. "We came down into some trees and, of course, the
Germans had us zeroed in."
He said he got lucky and dug in, avoiding artillery fire, "but some
of my buddies got shot down out of the sky."
The massive and daring mid-day jump caught some of
the Nazi Panzer tank divisions by surprise. But hundreds of Allied
troops were killed during the next few weeks.
Langevin grew up in St. Paul's Midway area and landed in Casablanca
via troop ship as the battles in Africa wound down. He later
parachuted into Sicily at night and still later fought in the Battle
of the Bulge.
"I'd seen it all over there, but the Battle of
the Bulge was the worst and the coldest," he said. "I earned
enough points that when the war ended, they flew me home while
the rest of my division had to take a troop ship." He'll be
joined by many of his nine grandchildren and 16
great-grandchildren at today's ceremony. "When you get up to my
age," Langevin said, "you never really think about it anymore,
not until this thing came up."
Besides Roy and Langevin, the other five veterans who will be
honored today are:
• Albert Larson, 87, of Fridley.
• Northam Stolp, 85, of Appleton, Wis.
• Lyle Sande, 86, of Willmar.
• Emmett Yanez, 89, of Woodbury.
• David Oldemeyer, 89, of Pipestone.
Health problems and long drives are expected
to keep Stolp, Sande and Oldemeyer from attending today's
ceremony, but some will be represented by family members.
"Most all of us who jumped that day are dead,"
said Roy, who lives in Farmington. "But it's a nice honor and
nice to be remembered."
Curt Brown • 651-673-4767