|A knowledgeable dealer of WWII militaria, a faithful attendee of Luxembourg commemorative events, a source of unending (and often politically incorrect!) wartime stories, a popular support for our historical trips for wounded vets out of Iraq and Afghanistan, a helping hand for the WWII vets when they return to their old battlefields - how do we describe our friend of almost ten years?
In brief, George grew up in Luxembourg City and looked up to the American GIs as a school kid in fall 1944. From them he learned English - with a Brooklyn accent which has never gone away! Perhaps a few of George's stories will give you an idea of what a good guy - and good friend - he is to the Americans.
George's first contact with the GIs came as he watched them clean out a tank which had been blown up. The grisly nature of the task escaped him as debris from the tank landed on the pavement. He had his eye on a helmet...and dashed out to grab it. Immediately he felt strong hands on his collar and a sound kick to his rear end. "Don't you steal that, you little SOB - if you wanted it you could've asked and I'd give it to you. Never steal!"
In the summer after the war, a friend told George about a nest of kittens inside one of the burned out tanks that littered Luxembourg. George climbed in to see the kittens, which shared the cramped space with two "completely carbonized" German corpses. "It sounds strange now, but I didn't think a thing about it - this was normal to us back then".
In the spring of 2001, our Luxembourg friends gathered to send our daughter off to West Point. As we entered the restaurant in an old farm (Michelshof near Echternach), George spotted a piece of old webbing dangling from the barn rafter. In no time he was up on a ladder in his nice clothes, retrieving this piece of "Kraut" history. Later he ventured further into the barn with the owner's permission and came out with several helmets, ammo boxes, and K-ration boxes. By this time his nice jacket and slacks didn't look so nice!
|George in the uniform of the Circle of the Ancient Guard, a Luxembourg patriotic group|
|A photo of the 83rd Infantry taken in George's schoolyard Nov 1944. George is with three friends, standing on the steps to the left watching his GI buddies pack to move out. The photo was taken by our friend Tony Vaccaro, who shot 10,000 photos during the war and became a professional after the war. I was unable to contact Tony for permission to use this photo from his book "Luxembourg 1944-1945", but I don't think he'd mind.|
|In summer 2006, we took a church group to the Lux. cemetery for a work project. I'd told the group some of George's stories, and warned them to expect some profanities. Sure enough, George was waiting as we pulled in thirty minutes late: "G** D*** you're late!" he yelled as the bus door opened. Needless to say, he was a huge hit.
In July 2005, we loaded up a group of about fifty wounded Soldiers and Marines for the trip home after dinner in Luxembourg. As our bus pulled past the restaurant and tooted in farewell, George and every Luxembourger on the porch jumped to their feet with a perfect and unscripted salute as we passed.