My name is Marco Eradus, I’m 38 years old. Together with my wife and 4 year old son, I live in a town called Best, nearby Eindhoven, Holland. At the age of seventeen I joined the Dutch Army and eventually became a drill instructor with the Infantry. After several years I changed jobs and worked for a special law enforcement unit for the Justice Department. Nowadays I work for the Dutch police. Besides my regular police job, I’m also commanding officer of the Ceremonial Police Detachment and also work for the explosives reconnaissance squad.
By then me and the guys from my Ceremonial Police Detachment were invited by the American Battle Monuments Commission to participate in the Memorial Day ceremonies in 2010. Somewhere along the way, Joe mentioned that he would very much like to have the opportunity to say a last good-bye to his fallen comrades and friends in Europe. I suggested to Joe, that it might be a nice idea to pay respects to his fallen GOYA comrades during Memorial Day with me and the guys from the Ceremonial Police Detachment. Joe was very enthusiastic about this idea, but a lot of (financial) matters had to be taken care of. With the fantastic help of British Airways and other fund raisings, Joe was finally able to make the trip to Europe.
||The first time I met Joe was in 2008 during a dinner party in Bastogne. I can’t explain why, but listening to Joe, seeing his emotions and the obvious hardship he went through, really got to me. We exchanged addresses and we kept in contact by letter. In 2009, Joe’s book “GOYA”, The story of Joseph Cicchinelli, a 551 st Parachute Infantry Battalion paratrooper, was published and we met again in Bastogne.
From May till September 2010, Joe spent time in Europe. He stayed in my house and spent a lot of time with me and my family. Joe also visited friends in the Ardennes, attended several ceremonies, and stayed in the Bed & Breakfast of my good friend Bob Konings and his wonderful family.
It’s hard for me to describe what Joe means to me. Just saying that I have a great admiration for the man, that he’s a wonderful human being, that he’s like a grandfather to me and that I never met a man like him, just doesn’t say it all.
In 2008 I left the Netherlands with my wife and two sons. We moved to Grandmenil. A tiny little village in the Belgium Ardennes. Because of this, I decided to research the battle of the bulge, especially this region. The research resulted in a website. (www.grandmenil.com)
And that's how I met Marco. Together we made several researches and we became very good friends.
Marco talked a lot about the veteran, named Joe Cicchinelli. And in may 2010 I had the opportunity to meet Joe in person. Because I'm running a bed and breakfast, I invited Joe to come over to Grandmenil. For about ten days, Joe was my guest. He loved the kids and my wife. During this period, we hardly talked about the war.
It was great to see, that Joe had another part.
Most people see him as a veteran. I had the chance to see the human Joe. Enjoying the flowers in our garden, the cats and beautiful nature in the Ardennes. In our home, Joe was a human and during the ceremonies on memorial days. he was the veteran.
It was during these days that Joe asked us to make a website about his life. Marco and I immidiately agreed to do this.
Meeting Joe was special. Saying goodbye felt like an "Au Revoir" to my grandfather.