70 Years Later the Netherlands Continues to Remember American Liberators from World War II

In September 1944, three Allied airborne divisions landed in the Netherlands as part of Operation Market–Garden. With the goal of moving Allied forces across the Rhine River, troops would have to seize control of key bridges and roads to accomplish this task.

Just three days into the operation, Pvt. Ludwig Kubish received the Silver Star for gallantry in action on September 19, 1944. As the assistant squad leader, Kubish advanced into enemy territory, along with his platoon, to establish a line of resistance. Pinned down by intense machine gun and small arms fire, the platoon could not advance. With complete disregard for his personal safety, Kubish advanced approximately 50 yards across an open field and attacked the enemy strong point. He killed four of the Germans, causing the rest of the enemy group to surrender, enabling his platoon to complete their mission.

The next day, September 20, Allied forces fought to secure a toehold across the Waal River in the battle for Nijmegen, Netherlands. Forty eight Americans died as a result of that effort, 20 of which are buried or memorialized at Netherlands American Cemetery and Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery:

  • Pvt. Anthony Bei, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • 1st Lt. Harry F. Busby, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Technician 5th Class Wilford N. Dixon, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pvt. Peter L. Colishion, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pvt. Francis L. Downs, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pfc. Thadeus S. Gondela, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pfc. Raymond H. Grummer, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pfc. Edward V. Henschler, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pfc. Willard Jenkins, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pvt. John T. Mullen, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pvt. Walter J. Muszynski, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pfc. Robert S. Opacich, 307th Airborne Engineer Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pfc. John Rigapoulos, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pvt. Harvey W. Schultz, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pfc. Robert M. Scott, 376th Field Artillery Battalion, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pvt. Jack M. Seitzinger, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pfc. Harold R. Shelden, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Pvt. Robert Washko, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division
  • Cpl. Robert H. Wilson, 702nd Tank Destroyer Battalion
  • Cpl. Bernard T. Woodland, 504th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division

While Kubish survived those days in September, he was later killed on November 21, 1944 and is buried at Epinal American Cemetery. For his actions in the battle for Nijmegen, Kubish, along with other member of the 82nd Airborne Division, was awarded the Military Order of William, the oldest and highest military honor in the Netherlands. “Ludwig Kubish’s unit played an important role in freeing my country in World War II. We think of any veteran of those days with gratitude and admiration,” said Col. Arie Ooms, Netherlands Defense Attaché, in a 2013 letter about Kubish’s accomplishments.

Today, 70 years later, the citizens of the Netherlands have not forgotten their liberators. The De Oversteek bridge, which translates to “the crossing”, spans the Waal river and honors those fallen Americans every night at dusk. Completed in 2013, the bridge includes 48 street lamps that span its length. They light up in slow succession every night just as the sun is setting, forever remembering those that died fighting to win back that river.