March offers chance to honor 82nd Airborne

Thomas GoodeContributing writer

To honor the efforts of the 82nd Airborne Division during the Battle of the Bulge, a 24 km march will be held 9 a.m. Feb. 17 at the foot of Thier-du-Mont Hill, north of the village of Grand-Sart, Belgium.

The march will follow an itinerary drawn from the roads and trails taken by the different 82nd Airborne units during the Battle of the Bulge. This year’s hike will follow the trails of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment and will pass by the villages of Goronne, Arbrefontaine, Noirefontaine farm, Erria, Hierlot and Bru.

To begin, marchers will lay flowers at the 508th PIR’s memorial at the foot of Thier-du-Mont hill in memory of the men who fought there and at the Noirefontaine farm, where a bronze plaque commemorates the action of the 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion.

For lunch, hot soup will be provided around noon at the Noirefontaine farm. Drinks and some hot food will also be available.

Participants should register upon arrival. A €6 registration fee covers the logistic support, hot soup at noon, a souvenir certificate, hot wine at the end of the march, insurance and other services. A Red Cross unit will also be available for support.

Several veterans from the 82nd Airborne Division who witnessed the battle will be participating as well as many re-enactment groups from Belgium and other countries. The logistic support will be provided all along the hike by WWII vehicles from the 82nd Airborne “All American” Jeep Group and Belgian Chapter of the 82nd Airborne C-47 Club.

The 508th PIR memorial at Thier-du-Mont is one of eight memorials raised by the initiative of the 82nd Airborne “All American” Jeep Group and Belgian Chapter of the C47 Club in homage to the 82nd Airborne Division and its units.