We shall not forget

Memorial Day

The class where 34 seats remained empty.

Originally written and published in the regional Dutch newspaper, Dagblad de Limburger, Memorial Day weekend, Saturday, May 23, 2015.

American Cemetery Eight pre-war students of the Citadel lie buried at Margraten.

The American Cemetery at Margraten holds countless stories of bravery and sacrifice. Relatively unknown is the fact that eight of the men who are buried there were students of the famous Citadel, a military academy.

By Stefan Gillissen

It’s June 1940. The German army overruns the European continent and declares war on Great-Britain. In movie theaters all over the United States the Fox Movie-tone News shows Hilter’s armies marching through Paris.

The future first-year students of The Citadel, a military academy, see the images but don’t take much notice of them. They just finished high-school and are enjoying their summer holiday. In September 565 boys have to report at Charleston. Until then they still can enjoy their freedom.

C Garlington Jr and A B Hunt JrCreswell Garlington, Jr., and Arthur Bradlee Hunt, Jr.
from the 1943 Sphinx, the Annual of the South Carolina Corps of Cadets.

On the 2nd of September 1940, forms are filled out and bills are paid in Charleston. The annual costs of studying at the Citadel lay between 530 and 670 dollars, a huge amount, but also a firm investment for a bright future. Great chances come to those who graduate from The Citadel. Nothing is known about the dark future of some of the students when General Charles Pelot Summerall, President of The Citadel, addresses them in his (more…)


Dutch Remembrance Day… Since the end of WWII, every May 4th at 8 p.m. the entire country of the Netherlands observes two minutes of silence to remember those who gave their lives for their freedom. The entire country, everyone stands still.

At the Netherlands American Cemetery it is observed with a simple yet impressive ceremony in which local school children are invited to participate. The national anthems of the Netherlands and Unites States are played followed by Taps. The Assistant Superintendent of the cemetery gives a brief word to those present. The flags are then lowered and folded by the children. The slideshow contains photos taken during the ceremonies of 2013 and 2014. (more…)

I loved it because of you

By Clemson Turregano, ’83


Citadel friends and Army friends,

I have to say that the Dutch got it right. Best.Memorial.Day.Ever.

Memorial Day wreaths

How do you honor the fallen on Memorial Day? First, find Roger Long (Cid 89), the most knowledgeable American about Citadel WWII fallen in Europe. Meet him at a cafe near the cemetery. Meet the wonderful Dutch people who have ‘adopted’ the graves of the Citadel war dead. They make sure these fallen heroes are remembered with flowers, visits, and memories.

Meet two young history teachers, both wearing Citadel buttons, who are familiar with the history of (more…)

Honoring those who gave all

On Saturday, May 24, 2014, a Memorial Day ceremony was held at Ardennes American Cemetery and Memorial to honor and remember all Americans who have given their lives in the service of their country and its allies.

A volley of three rounds.


Two Belgian F-16’s fly-over.

A windswept Field of Honor containing 5,323 American war dead of which 792 are unknowns.


Three Citadel Men rest in eternal peace at the cemetery which is located at Neupré, Belgium, approximately 18 kilometers south of the heart of Liège.

Frank Elmer Grogan, Jr., Class of 1942

Jerome Chris Serros, Class of 1942

James William Hendon, Jr. Class of 1942


Citadel Men, Margraten Boys and a Debt of Honor

by Steven V. Smith, ’84 – Chair, CAA History Committee

This article originally appeared in the Alumni News of The Citadel – Summer/Fall 2013. It is reprinted here in its entirety with the permission of the Citadel Alumni Association. Several photos have been added to this web post which did not appear in the original print version. The original article may be downloaded here.

In early 1949 a package arrived at the Kenilworth building, Alden Park Manor, Philadelphia addressed to Mr. Samuel W. Rolph. The package contained the flag which covered the casket of his son, Staff Sgt. Robert C. Rolph, killed in action near Hottorf, Germany, Feb. 25, 1945, during the Rhineland campaign. The flag was a tangible reminder of his and his wife’s decision to have their son’s remains permanently interred in one of the newly established World War II cemeteries in Europe rather than returned for burial in the United States. Mrs. Rolph had recently sent a photograph of her son in uniform to The Citadel in response to General Summerall’s request to display it with other Citadel World War II dead on the memorial gallery wall in the library in Bond Hall.

Netherlands American Cemetery

The Netherlands American Cemetery is the only American Military Cemetery in Holland. It contains the final resting place of 8,301 servicemen and women with an additional 1,722 names listed on the Walls of the Missing. There are 40 instances where two brothers are buried side by side. Of the 16 WWI and WWII cemeteries in Europe, the cemetery at Margraten holds the largest number of Citadel alumni. In addition to Robert C. Rolph, ’46, seven other Citadel alumni are buried here and all have been adopted and remembered by grateful Dutch citizens.


R. C. Rolph, ’46. 1943 Sphinx.

At the end of the summer 1942, Robert C. Rolph entered The Citadel with the Class of 1946. After a year at The Citadel, he, like many other cadets and college students, found himself drafted for the war effort. Rolph was initially assigned to Battery C, 2nd Antiaircraft Training Battalion at Fort Eustis, Virginia. Selected in October 1943 for assignment with the Army Specialized Training Program, he was assigned to Section 6 Company A 2517th Service Unit (AST), Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C. where he studied engineering. However, the urgent need for infantry replacements meant the sacrifice of the AST program and Rolph, like many thousands of others, ended up as a private in the infantry. He was assigned to L Company 3d Battalion, 406th Infantry Regiment, 102d Infantry Division. (more…)

A beautiful sad place…


By Maurice Heemels

On Sunday May 26, 2013, the soldiers resting in the American cemetery in The Netherlands were remembered and honored by American and Dutch authorities, American family and descendants, Dutch who adopted their graves, and all others interested in the efforts made by young American men to liberate Europe from inhumanity and totalitarianism.

Wet, white marble, flowers and flags made the cemetery on a cold Sunday in May a ‘beautiful sad place’. Sad because of its mere existence, beautiful because of its structure, its many details, the care which has been spent to keep the memory of those who fell alive, and, last but not least, its peacefulness. A peacefulness that contrasts painfully with the cold facts of World War Two’s last months of harsh fighting – fighting on French, Belgian, Dutch, and, in particular, German soil. Evil could not be overcome easily…

In all the speeches held on Margraten‘s Memorial Day one fact was remembered several times – the fact that the young Americans who found their last resting place in the Dutch countryside gave their lives for the freedom of people they did not know, living in a part of the world they had never been and knew almost nothing about.

For people of my generation, and I believe for the majority of young people today, it is quite unimaginable to get killed while helping other people in a different part of the world. Why should anyone do such a thing? Why leave your loved ones, your hometown and your country on a risky, maybe deadly trip to a war region? (more…)

Memories of Memorial Day at Margraten

This past Memorial Day was the most impressive I have experienced. Not because of any grandiose ceremony with lots of flags, speeches, and bands, but because of the people with whom I shared it. I could write a book filled with the stories from these people and the moments we had leading up to attending the Memorial Day ceremony at the Netherlands American Memorial and Cemetery.

The ceremony took place on Sunday, May 26, 2013 in the mid-afternoon. It was a cool, grey day with clouds hanging so low you felt as if you could reach out and touch them. As we walked up onto the Field of Honor, it began to rain lightly, and while we made a round through the cemetery to pay our respects, my best friend said aloud what we were all silently thinking, “This is a sad, beautiful place.”

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Someday I will write that book. Today, I share a few photos. As I relive the day…the emotions start to percolate, and, again, I have butterflies in my gut and goosebumps. Soon, I will soon write more detailed posts about those impressionable moments last May. [See Citadel Men, Margraten Boys and a Debt of Honor which was written by Major Steve Smith, ’84, and posted October 2013.]

Eight Citadel Men, our “Margraten Boys”, rest in peace in South Limburg, and thanks to the local people who have adopted their graves and names they are remembered everyday.


One Year of The Citadel Memorial Europe


One year ago, I published I wear the ring and publicly announced the availability of this digital memorial to the Citadel Men interred and memorialized here in 16 military cemeteries across Europe and North Africa.

It has been a year of vibrant impressions and one of the most spiritually and emotionally enriching years of my life. As I have tried to get to know these men and to share their stories, I have had the pleasure of making many new friends, and reconnecting with old friends, here in Europe and in America. So many warm and incredible people have touched my life this year. For this, I am truly grateful.

I have compiled my Top Ten Memories. Here is our story as I experienced it the past 12 months…

– Into Thy Hands O Lord –

1 Visit to Cambridge with BillA few days after “going public”, I received an email from an alumnus. A few weeks later, I flew over the North Sea to visit Cambridge American Cemetery in England with him, two of his sons, and the historian of “The Bloody 100th”. It was an inspirational and moving experience that I shall never forget. Together, we paid our respects to the three Citadel Men resting in peace and the one memorialized on the Wall of the Missing. Together, we recited The Cadet Prayer.

On that day, I began a new phase in this journey. See my post The Major of St. Lo.

– Memorial Day –

During Memorial Day weekend, I visited the Citadel Men resting in peace at the Netherlands and Henri-Chapelle American Cemeteries. The two cemeteries are located just 20 kilometers from each other, one on either side of the Dutch-Belgian border to the east of Maastricht and Liege in the direction of Aachen, Germany.

An alumnus wrote to me several times during April and May, “Don’t forget those who are still Missing-In-Action!”. In remembrance of the eight men who rest in no known grave here in Europe and North Africa, I laid flowers at the grave of an unknown a few meters from Albert S. Hagood, Class of 1931. They are not forgotten.

Two posts – Part I and Part II – describe the events of that spectacular Memorial Day weekend.

Memorial Day - Copy

– Faces and Stories –

Since last April, I have received details about our men from many places – alumni, family, their “adopters”, historians, and archivists. Four men have received the attention of several posts. Their names, faces, and stories have become familiar. (more…)

Memorial Day Weekend 2012 in Belgium and The Netherlands – Part II

Back to Part I – Henri-Chapelle

“Oos Heim” Margraten

Having made the trip from Henri-Chapelle, Belgium to Margraten, The Netherlands in a very relaxed 25 minutes – the weather and scenery were so utterly beautiful. It was one of those days where you could just not help but smile and thank God you are alive – I stopped the car at “Oos Heim” (local dialect meaning “Our Home”), Margraten’s community center and walked inside. Margraten, itself, dates from the 13th century and is a small village sitting on top an ancient plateau surrounded by lush farmland, apple orchards, and wooded areas. It has a population of a few thousand, and the American cemetery is the final resting place for 8,301 G.I.s. Sixty-eight years ago on 13 September 1944 when it was liberated from the Nazis, the population was only several hundred, and in 1946, at its largest, the cemetery contained almost 20,000 graves.


Memorial Day Weekend 2012 in Belgium and The Netherlands – Part I

Finally, after many years of wanting to get to Margraten for Memorial Weekend, I made it, and it exceeded all of my expectations. Even better, I was fortunate enough to visit two of the three American cemeteries in the region last weekend and pay my respects to 13 Citadel Men. Filled with countless impressions and new connections, it was a weekend I will keep close to my heart and hold tight.

The weather could not have been more perfect. It was gorgeous. The sky was a crystal clear Carolina blue and the grass a deep, lush green. The white marble monuments, Walls of the Missing, and headstones shone brilliantly in the sun. The flags fluttered majestically in the cooling breeze. At Margraten, the rhododendrons were in full bloom providing a fabulous burst of color. The scene had felt very familiar, but I could not place it. Now that I have had time to look back on last weekend, it finally came to me – The Citadel in April. The azaleas blooming, the leaves of the live oaks shimmering in the wind, and squinting into the bright sunlight reflected off of the whitewashed fortresses surrounding the parade deck.

Wendell and Robert Arhart of North Dakota


Saturday morning I left the house early and stopped at the corner florist entering through the back door to pick up the bouquets and flowers I had ordered. Then I made my way south to Maastricht and then to the Belgium border. Before Liege I headed east towards Aachen, Germany. Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery is situated on the old provincial road between those two old cities. The road runs along the crest of a narrow plateau, and the views of the rural landscape to either side were stunning. I arrived at 9 a.m. moments after the gates had opened. There was little human activity. Singing birds enhanced the tranquility, and standing in the middle of that field of honor with its 7,989 white marble crosses and Stars of David, I felt completely at peace.


Memorial Day 2012 – ABMC Event Schedule

Henri-Chapelle American Cemetery, August 2011

The American Battle Monuments Commission has published a schedule for the Memorial Day 2012 events at all of the overseas cemeteries on its Facebook page. Click here for the ABMC Facebook events page.

I found their FB page today, and I immediately hit “Like”. It is beautiful and very respectfully done. There are lots of high-resolution and detailed photos of the monuments and cemeteries, and more are being added every day. They also remember a service member each day with a photo of his or her gravemarker and information resulting in interesting comments being posted by relatives and friends.

We were already planning on attending the Memorial Day ceremony at the Netherlands American Cemetery. This takes place on Sunday, May 27 at 15:00. Now that the full schedule is known, we may also try to attend the ceremonies at Ardennes and Henri-Chapelle. The ceremonies will be held on Saturday, May 26 at 10:00 and 16:00 respectively. As plans for cemetery visits become firm, we will add them to our Agenda page.

At the Netherlands American Cemetery are 8 Citadel Men, Ardennes 2 Citadel Men, and Henri-Chapelle 5 Citadel Men. Click here for the list of Citadel Men at each cemetery.