SCHINNEN, Netherlands - Soldiers from U.S Army Garrison Schinnen, ChiAfA..vres Garrison and the Allied Forces Northern Europe Battalion joined the 502d Regiment Re-enactor group and Dutch citizens recently to celebrate the 63rd anniversary of the allied Operation Market Garden.

The international array of Soldiers and civilians gathered Sept. 15 in Sint-Oedenrode, the Netherlands, to recall sacrifices made during the largest airborne operation of World War II. The circumstances that led to the operation, the cost and the solemn respect it inspires today awes the conscience of those who cherish freedom and its price, said Lt. Col. Eric Tilley, commander of USAG Schinnen commander.

"The Dutch citizens afford us the sincerest degree of respect and gratitude," Tilley said. "They truly are thankful and understand the sacrifices made ... (as they) celebrate the 63 years of liberation that grew out of that fateful operation in 1944."

After meeting in the castle of Sint-Oedenrode, which served as a headquarters site during Operation Market Garden, participants walked through fields that U.S. Soldiers of the 502d Parachute Infantry Regiment did in 1944. The renovated military vehicles from the era were on display and Dutch citizens, who were children at the time, relayed their experiences the U.S. Soldiers.

Operation Market Garden occurred Sept 17 to 25, 1944. The allies had established tactical port operations in Normandy and needed to gain possession of the Rotterdam port, the largest port in the world at the time, then cross the Rhein River in an attempt to end the war by Christmas 1944.

USAG Schinnen participates in special commemorative events annually, including those that pay tribute to Operation Overlord in Normandy (June), the Battle of the Bulge in Bastogne (December) as well as participating in the Nijmegen March (July).

(Thomas Budzyna is assigned to the U.S. Schinnen Public Affairs Office)