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 –
A 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.
– 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…)
If you ever watched the HBO series Band of Brothers or read the Stephen E. Ambrose book which inspired it, then you know who Lynn “Buck” Compton was. Buck’s character in the miniseries inspired Matthew, the son of Citadel alumnus, Clark Mulligan, Class of 1986, to send him a letter. Clark got in touch with me last month to share a story which connects Buck with one of our own…
“I just saw the Citadel Memorial page on Facebook. Thanks to you and all the others who put this together. We must never forget the sacrifices that were made to protect our freedom.
As I was browsing through the list of names of Citadel grads that made the ultimate sacrifice, I noticed Charles Marion Thirlkeld. About five years ago, my younger son (now 17) and I had been watching the Band of Brothers series on TV. His favorite soldier in Easy was Buck Compton. He just thought Buck was cool. After searching the internet, I found that Buck was alive and living in Washington State. My son wanted to write him a letter and tell him “thank you” for his service and let him know how much he admired him and his fellow soldiers. Somehow, I found Compton’s address and my son wrote and mailed him a letter. In the letter, he mentioned that his Dad (me) graduated from The Citadel. Well, about two weeks later, Buck Compton sent a very nice reply to my son. In the letter he mentioned that one of his friends in Easy Company was Lt. Thirlkeld from The Citadel. (more…)
When I started this journey, I hoped that I could help put faces to the names on a few of the beautiful, white marble headstones in our American cemeteries in Europe and North Africa. I hoped that I could help record their stories for future generations, and I hoped to help others remember the Citadel Men who rest in peace overseas and those who are memorialized on Tablets of the Missing. My journey has only just begun, yet, it has already brought me in contact with many people, living and deceased, who are sharing with me their incredible stories. Mark Dworschak is on a similar journey remembering a young man from the Class of 1944. Below is his story and his request in its entirety which I received this morning. Although I am in the middle of writing about this past Memorial Day Weekend, I found his story so intriguing and in need of sharing that I had to post it today. Please contact us if you can help or know of someone who can.
I discovered your site, The Citadel Memorial Europe, during my research of 2nd Lt. Charles Marion Thirlkeld, Jr. and thought I would provide some additional information for his record. Attached are some additional photos of Chuck, a name his father used and as my wife and I have come to call him, which you may wish to use on your site.
I should provide some background: in April, 2011, I purchased from an estate a box of miscellaneous items which I have come to learn belong to Chuck. The estate, I later learned, was of his sister, Jean. Included in the materials were various photos and letters alongside Chuck’s wallet and Purple Heart. In the subsequent months, my research told of quite a life. I have begun to document Chuck’s life and service in an attempt to memorialize what may otherwise be lost.
There exists enormous gaps in the information I have been able to obtain. Chuck’s service records, along with thousands of others, was lost to fire at the National Archives in 1973. I wrote to a fellow service member who had some correspondence with Chuck’s mother, Mary, after the war, with no reply. Based on research to-date, this is what I’ve learned of Chuck.