On Sunday December 13th 2009 a monument was unveiled at the Baričrre-Hinck at the Crossroads of the Route Nationale N4 and the road from Houffalize. This is near the location of the aid station of the 326th Airborne Medical Company that was captured by German SS-troops on December 19th, 1944. The monument was unveiled by veteran Carmen Gisi of the 401st Glider Infantry Regiment and Henry " Hank"  S. Skowronski of the 326th Airborne Medical Company (both subunits of the 101st Airborne Division).

We' d met Carmen Gisi of New Jersey already in Hemmen, Holland in 2006.
On Friday December 11th 2009 we met again in Bastogne where he told us the remarkable story of his actions near the crossroads of Barierre-Hinck about 8 miles outside Bastogne on the 19th of December 1944.
Unaware at that time that the crossroads and the aid station in its North West corner had just fallen into German hands, Carmen thought that he was still inside the American held perimeter around Bastogne. When he approached the aid station, he found it empty. In one of the fox holes of the aid station, he found an abandoned camera with which he took this photograph:
We knew about the photograph from the literature. We also have a comparison photo in our Now&Then Ardennes section.
We told Carmen Gisi of the spooky atmosphere in the photograph of the empty tents and the fog in the field.
What we didn’t know yet was what Carmen told us then:

"It was even worse when we got into the operating tents. We saw two paratroopers on gurneys ready for surgery. Apparently they were too severely wounded for the Germans to take them prisoner so they’d cut their throats."

Present was also veteran f the 326th Airborne Medical Company Medic Henry "Hank" Skowronski from Ohio. Carmen Gisi told us that recently it was discovered that the camera he’d found had belonged to Hank. Historian Rich Riley of Ohio had brought the two together and through separate visits to the location of the aid station with Carmen’s Son, it was confirmed that Carmen actually took the photograph with Hank’s camera.
Hank told us:
"My company was hit hard! We were bombed at the Chateau Colombičres in Normandy and in Eindhoven. And in Belgium the aid station was captured by the Germans. I remained a POW until the end of the war."

Carmen explained us that he lost the camera after the actions in the Ardennes. Later he learned that the company’s supply sergeant had it. And he wasn’t planning on giving it back to Carmen. He then told us how he applied a certain amount of pressure on the sergeant which only resulted in getting back the exposed role of film inside the camera. At least the image of the overrun aid station remains for the future.

Hank and Carmen both signed their names for us:

We were present at the monument dedication. There were speeches from the mayors of the municipalities on both sides of the Baričrre-Hinck crossroads; St. Ode and Bastogne. Then, according to good airborne tradition, the monument was unveiled by Carmen and Hank who lifted a parachute canopy from the brand new monument.
The anthems of Belgium and the United States where played as well as taps by one of the reeanctors present during the ceremony.

There were more speeches but most moving were those by Carmen and Hank.
This is a photographic impression of the ceremony:

(click on the thumbnails to enlarge)



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