Looking back: Trip to Normandy honors Island WWII heroby jmaloni
by Danielle Forsyth
On May 31, family members and friends of Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper traveled to Normandy, France to participate in commemorations for the 66th Anniversary of D-Day. There, they retraced the final steps of Grand Island's Medal of Honor recipient.
Kelly Carrigg of the Grand Island VFW post named after DeGlopper was among those who traveled to Normandy, along with Raymond DeGlopper (nephew), Eugene Dinsmore (cousin), Henry Ensminger (cousin-in-law) and Joseph Synakowski (WWII veteran and VFW member) flew into Paris on June 1, following the Grand Island Memorial Day Ceremony.
On June 2, after staying the night in Paris and recovering from the jetlag, the group rented a van and set out for Normandy. The first day the group arrived at their destination, they met with a French historian who had met with some members of DeGlopper's 82nd Airborne Division a few years ago. The historian explained the bravery of DeGlopper according to the first-hand accounts.
DeGlopper's unit, the C Company, 1st Battalion, was ordered to cross the Mederet River and attack La Fière Bridge. The C Company was cut off from the rest of the battalion and under heavy German fire. PFC DeGlopper stood up and began firing his Browning automatic rifle in order to suppress enemy fire, allowing the rest of his company to escape and rejoin the battalion. For his self-sacrifice, enabling the Allies to advance further into Normandy, he was posthumously awarded the Medal of Honor on Feb. 28, 1946.
"The French citizens were elated to have the DeGlopper family there," said Carrigg, a former commander of the VFW in Paris and the only one of the group who had been to France before. Everyone in the small town of Cauquigny, now part of the neighboring town of Amsreville, knows the bravery and sacrifice of the American soldiers, especially that of DeGlopper.
A group of French citizens have started an organization named "Association Normandie," dedicated to erecting and maintaining memorials to American soldiers who fought and died on French soil. According to Carrigg, they were excellent hosts during their stay. The group of visiting Americans awarded the Association Normandie a 1000-euro check to show their gratitude for their efforts to remember the soldiers of World War II.
Different ceremonies were held throughout the week including a wreath laying ceremony at the memorial dedicated to Charles N. DeGlopper, said to be located within 100 meters of where experts think he fell on June 9, 1944.The end of the week culminated with a multi-national parachute drop.
"After getting the DeGlopper family there, everything just came full circle," said Carrigg. She and the Grand Island VFW are in the beginning stages of establishing Grand Island and Amsreville as sister cities, connected by the hero who gave his life to save many others.
For more information about this project, contact Kelly Carrigg.
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In September, after a three-year process, member of the Charles N. DeGlopper Memorial Post 9249 held a rededication ceremony for their Wall of Honor inside the post on Grand Island Boulevard after receiving a display medal of honor.
"Any person from any place who wants to see it when the post is open is allowed," said Post Commander Alan Lee.