Grandson visits to honor grandfather’s legacy

By Charell de Koster, USAG Benelux Public AffairsNovember 9, 2023

Two people read the text on a memorial plaque.
Aaron Kyasky and Megan Magee read the B-17 Flying Fortress memorial plaque on R.K. Begraafplaats Eygelshoven, Oct. 19, 2023. (U.S. Army photo by Charéll de Koster, USAG Benelux Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

EYGELSHOVEN, Netherlands – Two monuments honoring British, Canadian and U.S. Airmen located a few minutes away from Army Prepositioned Stock-2 (APS) Eygelshoven, received an unusual visit on Oct. 19, 2023.

Aaron Kyasky visited the site where his grandfather’s bomber crashed 80 years ago. In honor of his grandfather's sacrifices during World War II, the grandson of the surviving top turret gunner and flight engineer, Sgt. Arthur E. Linrud, recently visited the APS-2 site as well as the memorial dedicated to those lost in the crash.

The U.S. Army Air Forces B-17 Flying Fortress was in route from England to Germany as part of the second raid on Schweinfurt, when they were shot down by a Luftwaffe aircraft. Various pieces of the plane fell in and around what was at the time a rowing pond, for leisure, nowadays it is where APS-2 site Eygelshoven is located. On board were ten U.S. airmen. Four of them died on impact, one is still recorded as missing in action (MIA) and the other five were taken prisoner.

“I know the morning of the bombing, I remember [him] telling me that there was pea soup fog, very cloudy,” said Kyasky, Linrud’s grandson. “They received orders the day before, knowing that they were going to have a mission, but they always kept on thinking that the order to stand down would come. Once they started rolling down the tarmac they knew - No, we are going.”

After the plane was shot down, Linrud became a Prisoner of War (POW). He was first transported to Frankfurt, Germany. Then put on a train to the POW camp in Krems, Austria.

Linrud’s parents received a telegram saying that he was missing in action shortly after the crash. A couple of weeks later they received another telegram from a man named F.W.C. Dannemann from New York. He had been listening to the German radio and found out that [Linrud] had been captured.

“My grandfather talked about seeing one of the engines on fire and watching the plane he was parachuting out of,” said Kyasky. “He said he had some turbulence from the [German] fighter trying to get him. I know when he hit the ground there was a German Soldier basically with a gun in his face, who said - for you my friend, the war is over. You are a German prisoner of war,’” recalls Kyasky.

“I wanted to see where my grandfather was shot down because he was very important to me.” said Kyasky. “He was proud of his service. He would be proud that I was here to represent him and pay respect to his crewmembers that did not survive.”

The streets on the installation in Eygelshoven have been named after the crewmembers of the B-17 that were killed in action (KIA) or MIA. Erica Nowells, U.S. Army Garrison Benelux site manager Eygelshoven, took Kyasky and his partner, Megan Magee, on a tour of the installation to see the street signs for themselves. “There is a total of five street signs we have.” said Nowells. “The memorial site is right up the street here.”

Kyasky and Magee, by coincidence booked their trip a week after the 80th anniversary commemorating the crash. “I did not realize that last week was the 80th anniversary,” said Magee. “That was very symbolic, but we did not realize that until the trip was already booked. Glad to be here.”

Originally, they had planned to go see Magee’s family in Spain. During preparations for the trip, Kyasky felt the urge to visit the place where his grandfather was shot down.

Kyasky’s aunt, JoAnn Linrud, was the reason Kyasky contacted Wim Slangen, a local historian who initiated establishing the monuments. “My aunt [did] a lot of research on my grandmother’s side.” explained Kyasky. “She is very involved in the memorial. She put me in contact with Wim."

Two gentlemen stand next to a memorial.
Wim Slangen and Aaron Kyasky pose at B-17 Flying Fortress memorial, on R.K. Begraafplaats Eygelshoven, that commemorates the B-17 crash, Oct. 19, 2023. (U.S. Army photo by Charéll de Koster, USAG Benelux Public Affairs) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

As a local historian, Slangen researched the history of the crash. “During May 4 commemorations (Remembrance Day in the Netherlands) I heard the names of people who died in Eygelshoven during the war, but the airmen never got mentioned,” said Slangen.

To get in contact with eyewitnesses of the crash, Slangen put an article in the German newspaper as Eygelshoven lies at the border of the Netherlands and Germany. “I cannot remember why exactly I mentioned Arthur Linrud’s name, but it worked.” said Slangen. He got a response.

The response turned out to be from Martina Offermanns, a member of the Offermanns-Gliege family, living in Würselen. The family Gliege organized transatlantic family reunions as generations spread out in Germany, United States and Canada. Linrud was connected to the Gliege family through his wife, her maiden name was Gliege. “If the family never came to the reunion, Martina’s husband would have never recognized the Linrud name in the newspaper.” said Kyasky.

Even though, Linrud barely spoke about the war or his time as a prisoner, Kyasky remembers his grandfather being proud of the medals he received for his service. He gave talks for different college groups and spoke at different memorials sites, especially around Memorial Day.

“I know my mom is happy that I am visiting, since I was so close to my grandfather,” said Kyasky. “I really wanted to see what he experienced. At the end of the war, the German guards knew that the Russians were coming from the east. They did not want to be captured by the Russians because of how they were treated in World War I, so they marched the prisoners for a hundred plus miles to the west. One thing I thought about doing if I had more time; I would like to go visit the POW camp in Krems, Austria. I would love to follow the route to relive my grandfather’s experience a little bit, to see what he saw on his way once he found out the war was over. To experience going through the same towns and villages, even 80 years later, that would be neat. Maybe one day I will do that.”

Kyasky is glad that he can contribute to keeping the history alive for generations to come.