The following speech was made at the Rochefort, Belgium Town Hall on the occasion of John being made a honorary citizen of that town on June 19, 2010. Mr. Gilbert Stevenot, who was an interpreter in General Bradley’s Headquarters during WWII was responsible for the honor.

Thank you Gilbert for your kind words which I accept proudly in behalf of my fellow comrades of the 87th Infantry Division, who with soldiers of the 84th Infantry Division secured the borders of the town of Rochefort during the critical fighting of the Ardennes conflict in January of 1945.

I will always remember the men of Corlux[1] who with your assistance placed the four plaques which tell the history of the fighting of the 87th Division at Moircy, Tillet, Pironpre and St. Hubert …. and how the Corlux provided the grand reception for our Association during our “Comeback” in June 1996.

We veterans cannot express enough our appreciation to the people of Belgium and Rochefort for your continued hospitality to us over the years …. and your genuine friendliness and outpouring of love. With the combined loss of Rochefort’s citizens and our division soldiers during the battle, we share your grief.

At the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge in St. Louis, MO, Gen. John Shallikashvilli told the veterans: “You were the heros that Hitler did not account for.” Hitler could account for superior weapons; buzz bombs; Tiger tanks and the “screaming meemies”, but he did not account for the GI soldier. His stamina. His relentlessness. His temerity. His shutxpa! Then he compared the strength of the once great German Army to that of the blacksmith who swaged the blade against the anvil. He looked out over that gathering of former soldiers and said: “You were the UN- breakable anvil against which Hitler smashed his Armys.” What a tremendous statement! I am proud to have been a part of that wonderful group of GI’s.

Thank you all for this personal tribute and as always for remembering the GI soldier who came to your home 65 years ago. God bless you all and the Town of Rochefort.

[1] Corlux: Cercle des Officiers de Réserve de la province du Luxembourg

U.S. Army Star
M Company, 347th Infantry Regiment

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