War Time Connection Brings Together Belgian Woman and Great Nephew of Airborne Soldier

As a 12-year-old girl Marie-Thérèse Huppertz lived in the small Belgian village of Pepinster. In winter 1944, American soldiers arrived in her village needing places to stay. The mayor asked families to host soldiers in their homes, and the Huppertz family welcomed in some of these young men to include Pvt. Hyman Rappaport, who happened to be fluent in French. For two months, Rappaport and the other Americans became a staple in the family’s home. While the paratroopers spent the mornings away from the home, many afternoons included playing cards with the family.

Marie-Thérèse was thrilled to share her home with these men. “They were our liberators,” she said. “It was fantastic.” For her birthday, the soldiers even helped prepare a small party by bringing food from their base, which included cake and even chocolate and chewing gum, rare treats during the war. Marie Therese felt a strong connection to Rappaport, even though they had known each other a short time. “He was like my big brother.”

But by the end of January 1945 the young soldiers had to return to the front. Just days later, an officer came to the family home to let them know that Rappaport had been killed.

Decades after Rappaport’s death, his memory remains strong to Marie-Thérèse. In the summer of 2017 Rappaport’s great nephew Daniel Moraglia traveled to Belgium to honor his great uncle, who is buried in Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery. During this visit he met Marie-Thérèse for the first time. She happily shared stories of his great uncle and the time he spent in her home.