On December 11 our chairman Karel van Soest had the privilege and pleasure to meet the well-known WWII veteran Vince Speranza.
Vince enlisted in to the US Army on October 25, 1943. He volunteered for the Parachute Infantry. He was sent overseas with Company H, 3rd Battalion, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division from Camp Shanks aboard the Queen Mary. He arrived in France in November 1943 and would later fight in the Battle of the Bulge.
During the defense of Bastogne, his unit was defending the hamlet of Savy (a stone’s throw to the north of the center). During an attack by the German force from Longchamps one of his good friends was seriously wounded. When he asked Vince for a drink, and this was not immediately available in the neighborhood, after the attack Vince hurried to the center of Bastogne to look for something drinkable.
When he entered a heavily battered cafe, he found just about everything shot. as a miracle the beer tap installation still worked. He took his helmet and filled it with beer and rushed back to his wounded friend who drank gratefully.
This story quickly spread in the surrounding fox holes ….
When Vince Speranza was back in Bastogne for the first time in 2008 on the occasion of the 65th anniversary of “The Battle of the Bulge” he accidentally ended up in the pub of that time.
Imagine his surprise that “Airborne Beer” could be ordered. His surprise grew even greater when he determined that this beer was served in a stone mug representing an American helper. When he asked the owner how he got that idea, he told him the story of an American paratrooper in this cafe in December 1944, etc. …
When Vince then told him that he was the American paratrooper, you can imagine how the café owner reacted to this, and with him all the guests in the cafe! Ever since Vince comes to Bastogne every year …
Vince told this special story wearing his uniform to our chairman, where he handed him his book “Nuts” after he personally signed it.
A piece of ‘living history’ in the purest form.
We hope to receive Vince on our Basecamp Vlagheide on Thursday 19 September in good health. You are also very welcome.