by Staff Sgt. Joe W. McFadden
52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
12/20/2014 - LUXEMBOURG -- Nearly
200 Luxembourgers and Americans observed the 70th anniversary of the
Battle of the Bulge during a commemorative ceremony at Luxembourg
American Cemetery and Memorial in Luxembourg, Dec. 16, 2014.
Grand Duke Henri of Luxembourg; Xavier Bettel, prime minister of
Luxembourg; Robert Mandell, U.S. ambassador to Luxembourg; U.S. Air
Force Gen. Frank Gorenc, commander of U.S. Air Forces in Europe and Air
Forces Africa; and U.S. Army Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, commander of U.S. Army
Europe, participated in the memorial service to honor those who fought
and died in the battle from Dec. 16, 1944 through Jan. 25, 1945.
"The importance of the Allied victory cannot be understated," Gorenc
said. "The defeat of the enemy in their biggest offensive in the West in
World War II was a superb accomplishment."
Allied forces liberated Luxembourg from Axis occupation in September
1944. However, the heavily-wooded Ardennes region of the countryside
served as a new battleground when enemy armies launched a surprise
attack before dawn Dec. 16, 1944.
The initial advance produced confusion but met strong resistance from
reinforced Allied armies in key cities in Belgium like St. Vith and
Bastogne. The battle eventually resulted in a German defeat, emboldening
Allied movements to the country's eastern and western fronts.
"Air power certainly helped halt the last German advance of World War
II," Gorenc said. "Airmen and Soldiers are forever linked here in the
Ardennes and battlefields all over the world. The U.S. Air Force evolved
from the Army Air Corps, and our service will continue to find
innovative ways to protect them and provide them the supplies they need
on the battlefield just like the Soldiers needed during the Bulge. As
the commander of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe, I am proud of the Army
Air Corps Airmen who provided air support during the Battle of the
Bulge. I am proud of the men and women who served during World War II
and throughout our history in support of freedom. And I am proud of our
The battle resulted in more than 19,000 American deaths with many buried
in the Luxembourg cemetery, which was established in the middle of the
conflict Dec. 29, 1944.
"The 5,076 Americans, including 22 sets of brothers, who died in the
service of their country are buried here today," Hodges said. "This
ceremony and this beautiful and peaceful cemetery are about
commemorating their service and the service of many thousands of men and
women who fought in this great battle. But it's also about something
much bigger - it's about the concept of service to each other as
Soldiers, as people, as nations. These Soldiers and Airmen buried here
and in cemeteries all over Europe lived and fought for each other. They
risked their lives for each other. They would have rather died in combat
than to have failed their comrades or leave a comrade behind."
More than 20 World War II veterans attended the ceremony, many making
the trip as part of anniversary tours throughout Belgium and Luxembourg
at sites relating to the battle.
"For this achievement, each and every one of you have formed the
everlasting gratitude of the Luxembourg people," Bettel said, on behalf
of his fellow countrymen to the veterans. "Thank you so much for what
you did for us and for what you are doing today."