Belgian veteran urges Airmen to never forget WWII

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Daryl Knee
  • 52nd Fighter Wing Public Affairs
A Belgian World War II veteran spoke with base honor guard members here Aug. 23 about his service with the U.S. Army during the war.

Maurice Sperandieu encouraged today's honor-guard Airmen to remember the sacrifices of those who were killed in battle and shared what he has done to honor the cost of freedom.

"Don't forget," he warned the group of Airmen. "The sacrifice of tens of thousands of Americans who died for us is the only reason I'm doing what I'm doing, and I'll go up to the very end."

Sperandieu served with the U.S. military as a translator at age 18 after the Allied liberation of Antwerp, Belgium, in early 1944. Assigned to U.S. Army Gen. George Patton's Third Army, Sperandieu fought in the Battle of the Bulge, a major German offensive.

He founded the Bastogne Historical Walk in 1977 in Bastogne, Belgium, to celebrate the Allies' victory during the offensive. Now 85 years old, he still participates in the commemorative walk every year and speaks with current military members about their service.

"That's the way I am, and no one can tell me to do otherwise," he said of his mission to educate today's younger generation. "As long as I will be living, I'll be active and stay true to what I always did since the end of the war."

Sperandieu came to Spangdahlem with members of a Belgian WWII honor guard team which partners with the 52nd Fighter Wing team for joint events throughout Europe. Frank De Rudder, who commands the foreign team, noticed his friend Sperandieu's failing health and invited him to the meeting.

The Belgian honor guard does whatever it can for veterans to ensure they get recognition and appreciation for their contributions to the war, Rudder said. As the team travels in Europe often, inviting Sperandieu allows them to share his story region-wide.

However, Sperandieu shied away from praise and instead said he was thankful for the U.S. involvement in the liberation of his country.

"Always, I've been grateful to the Americans," he said. "The time I spent with the American Army I will never forget -- the U.S. Soldiers adopted me as one of their own.

"If we are free now, it's thanks to the Soldiers who came here," he continued. "Thank you."