USAG Benelux Spotlight: Benoit Versieux

By Richard Komurek, USAG Benelux Public AffairsMay 24, 2024

A group of WWII reenactors pose together with a U.S. flag.
U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Engineer Benoit Versieux poses for a photo during a tour of World War II battle sites in Bastogne, Belgium with U.S. Soldiers and Belgian reenactors. (Photo Courtesy of Benoit Versieux) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

[Editor’s Note: In this series, we are shining a light on our workforce in and around the Benelux. This Spotlight is on Benoit Versieux, USAG Benelux Installation Geospatial Information & Services manager, who works for the Directorate of Public Works and volunteers his free time to conduct tours of World War II battlefield sites in the Ardennes region of Belgium.]

CHIEVRES, Belgium – For many people, WWII history is something limited to school textbooks or Hollywood movies. But for engineering technician Benoit Versieux, Second World War history is a proud legacy of valor and sacrifice to be honored, appreciated and passed on to future generations.

As a young boy, Versieux visited Chièvres Air Base with his father to see military aircraft at the SHAPE International Airshow and started to become interested in the military and the U.S. Army. This interest grew further in his teenage years after watching the film “Saving Private Ryan” and television mini-series “Band of Brothers”, which highlights WWII battles in France and the Benelux.

“It was these kinds of movies that give me a lot of interest in WWII history,” said Versieux. “So, I started reading books and everything else I could find, and when I was around 18 I started to participate in WWII reenactments.”

A black and white photo of a man dressed in a WWII uniform riding in a jeep.
U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Engineer Benoit Versieux rides in a jeep during a World War II reenactment in the Ardennes region of Belgium in 2013. (Photo by Severine Niessens) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

It was Versieux’s involvement with WWII reenactors that first brought him together with U.S. Army troops from Vilseck, Germany, who were visiting the Ardennes to participate in a Battle of the Bulge reenactment. Afterwards, Versieux gave the Soldiers a short walk of some of the battle sites. As a gesture of appreciation, the Soldiers invited Versieux to Vilseck to visit the Reed Museum at Rose Barracks. This started a bond of friendship with the Second Cavalry Regiment that has continued for more than two decades.

Over the years, Versieux has given more than a dozen free tours of Bastogne to Soldiers visiting from Europe and the United States, to include a visit of WWII veterans. Having the opportunity to visit battle sites with the veterans who fought there was both a humbling and inspiring experience for him. One veteran, who lost his foot to frostbite during the war, had to wear a special boot to keep his leg warm when visiting Bastogne for the annual December commemorations.

For Versieux, the stories told by the veterans are the living history of WWII that he wants to share with others during his battlefield tours.

“Many veteran memories were never written in any books,” said Versieux. “Now most of the veterans are gone or will be gone in the next coming years and many memories will also be lost.”

To Versieux, the only way to really get a more comprehensive understanding and appreciation for the sacrifices of WWII is to see the battle sites in person.

“I think seeing them helps people understand it's not a storybook they have to read. They are there, they see the places and they see the scars on the buildings … so it makes it more real.”

A man shows U.S. Soldiers a map of WWII battle sites.
U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Engineer Benoit Versieux gives a tour of battle sites in Bastogne, Belgium to U.S. Soldiers dressed in World War II uniforms after reenactment activities. (Photo Courtesy of Benoit Versieux) (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

Showing American Soldiers and veterans the battlefield sites and sharing veterans war stories during his tours are also a way that Versieux shows his gratitude and appreciation for the freedom Belgium has today.

“I want people to understand that now we are free because of the Americans and other Allies,” said Versieux. “It's not only history, we are free because of them and sharing all the memories, even the smallest ones, gives people a more personal feeling about it.”

After decades of interest in military history and the U.S. military, the opportunity to work for U.S. Army Garrison Benelux was like a dream come true for Versieux. Following his studies in computer aided drawing at the university in Mons, Belgium, Versieux worked for a decade as a design engineer in the commercial sector before joining Team Benelux.

“I'm very proud to work for the U.S. Army. I looked for a long time for an opportunity to work here and when I finally got the job I was very, very happy.”

This Spotlight series will continue to tell the stories of our workforce in and around the Benelux. We are the Army’s home - we are IMCOM.