Jim, a former member of C Battery, passed away on Tuesday, July 21, 1998. Follow the above link for a special memorial page.
Dan, a former member of A Battery, passed away on Monday, November 30, 1998. Follow the above link for a special memorial page.
John, a former member of A Battery, passed away on Saturday, February 10, 2001. Follow the above link for a special memorial page.
Ed, a former member of C Battery, passed away on Saturday, June 23, 2001. Follow the above link for a special memorial page.
Joseph Rondeau, Jr.
Joe, a former member of HQ Battery, passed away on Thursday, August 9, 2001. Follow the above link for a special memorial page.
Visit Our Other Memorial Pages: Final Farewells 2002 | Taps 2003 | Taps 2004
To the Americans Who Fought On All Fronts, 19411945
This story shall the good man teach his son;
... From this day to the ending of the world,
But we in it shall be remember'd;
We few, we happy few, we band of brothers;
For he today that sheds his blood with me
Shall be my brother ...
from William Shakespeare's Henry V
The above photograph is a scan of a postcard that I bought when I first visited St. Avold in 1963. I was six years old and was traveling along the border between
France and Germany with my parents. (I think I must have had to borrow a few francs from my mother to purchase it!) I'm sure I did not realize at the time what St. Avold meant, nor what had occurred in the peaceful forests all around me 19 years earlier. I'm doubly sure that I did not realize how the vast silences that collected and seemed to stand between those rows of white stones were the diametric counterpoint to the enormous sounds of battle that once echoed across this beautiful, serene landscape. But, 33 years later, I know I must thank the men lying here that I will never truly know these things. It is painful to realize that many were almost 20 years younger than I am now when they died.
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[ via The American Battle Monuments Commission ]
In Memoriam, to All Soldiers, All Wars
In Flanders Fields
In Flanders fields the poppies blow
Between the crosses, row on row,
That mark our place; and in the sky
The larks, still bravely singing, fly
Scarce heard amid the guns below.
We are the dead. Short days ago
We lived, saw dawn, felt sunset glow,
Loved, and were loved, and now we lie
In Flanders fields.
Take up your quarrel with the foe:
To you from failing hands we throw
The torch; be yours to hold it high.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep, though poppies grow
In Flanders fields.
For the Men and A Man of the 225th
(Site Mission Statement)
The 225th AAA Searchlight Battalion was like hundreds of other units deployed in the ETO during World War II, part of the massive collective of men and materiél that had been hurled
ashore at Normandy in June 1944. Like most of these units, the story of its involvement in the final chapters of the
war in Europe is not chronicled to any
great degree by the country for which it fought. The National Archives leave us with
a slim copy of the unit history and barely a cubic foot (archivists measure records
by the space it takes up) of operational orders and miscellaneous paperwork. In Shelby
Stanton's monumental World War II Order of Battle, the 225th gets no
more coverage that any similar unit and no less. Their records have neither been
elevated owing to extraordinarily valorous events nor erased owing to more embarrasingly
tragic or vainglorious ones. They were simply 900 soldiers doing the job for which they
were trained. Others had been trained to operate bulldozers, unload supplies, drive
trucks, repair tank engines, type requisitions, cook mashed potatoes, take photographs,
dig latrines, pump gas, and the like. The young men of the 225th were trained to point
searchlights at the sky so other American young men could shoot down planes flown by
German young men. But this is not the whole story.
The 225th won four battle stars in the ETO, for the campaigns in Normandy, Northern France,
the Rhineland, and Central Germany. This much can be gleaned from looking them up in
Stanton's book, a simple shred of fact shared by those hundreds of other units that fought in the
ETO. But what was being a member of the 225th really like? From the day you received an
induction notice through V-E day and the million memories in between?
That information is not buried in the vast holdings of the
National Archives. That "data" is not
recorded in any history one could happen across in a dusty stack at Carlisle Barracks. The only place
we can find that today is in the memories of the men that were there. Many of those memories
are as clear as the day they entered memory. Some of them
are gone. Others are fragile and fleeting. Out of focus. In need of strengthening.
Some men don't recall very much at all. And a lot of these men are plain gone, and, with them, their
recollections. Perhaps we will never have the "whole" story.
In the Ridley Scott film Blade Runner, which probably many WW II veterans have
never seen, a soldier of the future, an android built for interstellar combat with a preset lifespan,
laments his own impending death. He says: "I have seen things you people
would not believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. C-beams glittering in the dark
near the Tannhäuser Gate. But, all these memories will soon be lost, like tears
in rain." I hear this fictional soliloquy in my mind as I piece together the story of this
single unremarkable unit of searchlight men. We would not believe the things that these men have seen. And,
yes, their memories will soon be lost, like tears in rain. So, we make humble attempts to
tell as much of the story as possible.
This Web page has one purpose: to provide a location for these fragile memories, a tiny shelf in a small
corner of a little out-of-the-way museum that seeks to commemorate seemingly insignificant personal events that occurred 50 or more years ago within the larger cataclysm of World War II. It is an
attempt to first illuminate, then fan, a solitary ember cooling at the core of a long-extinguished, but vast conflagration. Five years ago, this mission would have been impossible. The
little out-of-the-way museum certainly would never have existed physically. But now it does, in so-called
"cyberspace," constructed from the connectivity protocols that enable the document-sharing that we
know as the World Wide Web and from the very human desire to create the documents that we can now share.
We can all find that little museum now. All the roads have been constructed to reach it. Now all
we have to do is finish building it. And that's what we're doing here. Each little piece of information
is meticulously added to our vision of this museum in the mind, like delicate crystalline things that catch the light and our imagination and that reflect the light back to tell us something about these men and, magically, about ourselves.
This web site is, yes, dedicated to the memory of the 225th, for it no longer exists as a unit in
the modern U. S. Army. And, yes, it is dedicated to the members of the battalion who have passed on. And, yes, it is further dedicated to the survivors, those now-old men, many on the brink of death, who remember, and through their precious memories, provide the real human history of World War II. But it is also dedicated to the occasional visitor who may have lost a father or mother or brother or sister who lived inside the terrible crucible of that war, and who is attempting to discover something, anything about that parent or person, to plumb the lives of those mysterious people
who sat across the kitchen table from them all those years and said very little or nothing about
that time of their lives.
Finally, this site is a salutation to my father's generation, the generation that went to war all those
years ago and to which we owe a debt of gratitude regardless of whether we think any war is correct, and to my father, to whom it is a small attempt to pay part of the impossible debt of a son.
- Larry M. Belmont, Blue Point, NY