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Special events:Family visit for GOYA bird Jack Mc Atee

12th of July, Visit Henri Chapelle American Cemetery

On Friday the 9th of July Frank Gahagen arrived on Brussels Airport from Pennsylvania, USA.

Frank is the nephew of 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion member, John F. Mc Attee. John, within the family called “Jack”, died on the 7th of Januari 1945 during the battalions dramatic attack on Rochelinval.

After reading an article containing an interview with 551st PIB veteran Joe Cicchinelli about the 551st PIB, Frank contacted Joe.
Frank meet up with Joe in his hometown Sun city West (Arizona)and they talked about Jack. Frank said good-bye to Joe with the remark that somewhere in 2011 he, and other family members, would be travelling to Europe to follow his uncle’s footsteps.
Frank and Joe did not know at that time, that it would turn out a bit sooner than 2011.omewhere around the end of June Frank decided, all of a sudden, to come down to Europe and meet up with Joe and me in the Ardennes. For him this was a once in a lifetime opportunity, with Joe being in Europe, and being able to take Frank to his uncle’s grave, and visiting the 551st PIB battlegrounds.
On the 10th of July Frank, Joe and me attended the unveiling of a plaque, dedicated to Robert Hill, a 551st PIB member, in Rochelinval. The next Monday, the 12th of July, Joe, Frank and me traveled down to Henri Chapelle American Cemetery.
I’ve seen this many times before with Joe, but it stills gives me goosebumps, seeing and hearing Joe talk to Jack, asking him how he’s doing……
Needless to say this visit was a emotional one for Joe and Frank.

The next following days Joe and Frank spend a lot of time together and visited the battlegronds where his uncle Jack fought for our freedom.
After spending two days in Holland, Frank went back to the US on the 16th of July. For Frank this was a memorable and impressive week and he insured me that he will be back next year with the rest of the family to honor their uncle and follow his footsteps. It will be my pleasure again to do anything I can for the Mc Atee/Gahagen family. If there is one thing I learned this week: Men like Jack Mc Attee, made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom, but let us never forget the sacrifices of the families they left behind…….