Honoring the Memories and Sacrifices

St. Louis Gateway Chapter  •  Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge WWII  •  Saint Louis, Missouri

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Overview of Activities/Events 2014

The year 2014 started out with a celebration of the Chapter's 21st Birthday. Kent Stephens, Chapter President, announced that he was stepping down from his long-held office for health reasons. "Kent has given his heart and soul to the Gateway Chapter for over twenty years", Dave Schroeder wrote in the Chapter newsletter, "Kent's membership number in this organization is #1." Kent's efforts as an original founder of the St. Louis Gateway Chapter are documented in the Chapter Chronology section. His presence at the monthly meetings is greatly missed.

At the May 2014 Chapter meeting, the decision was made to merge the Ladies' Auxiliary with the Chapter membership. Members of the Ladies' Auxiliary shall be designated as associate members with membership dues starting with the year 2015.

Events and activities during 2014 included the annual World War II Weekend in April, the Webster Groves 4th of July parade, Veterans Fair at Meramec Bluffs Retirement Center in July, the Celebrate Wildwood parade in August (Dot and Rusty Pendleton were parade grand marshals), the Chapter picnic in September, Affton Days parade, Veterans Day celebrations, the December 16 Memorial Ceremony and the Chapter Gala Christmas Party. We were honored to meet Pasca Voung, the writer and director of the film D-Day, Normandy 1944, at the World War II Weekend as well as a representative of the St. Louis Science Center where the film is offered in the Omnimax theater.

Barney Baker, Rich Coyle and Don Green participated in the live broadcast of "History in the First Person: Celebrating World War II Veterans" on the Higher Education Channel (local access cable HEC-TV) on November 5. They responded to students' questions from around the country. Rich Coyle stated the program got very good results with high school students calling in from across the country.

Rusty and Dorothy Pendleton, Don and Marjie Green, and Barney Baker represented the Gateway Chapter at a fundraiser on April 26 for the Honor Flight organization. Many of our members have participated in the Honor Flight program traveling to Washington DC for the day to visit various memorials.

Dan Olmstead, representative from the World War II Museum in New Orleans, interviewed members Don Green, Marvin Korte, and Rich Coyle. Rich mentioned that his interview was a particularly favorable experience. Dot and Rusty Pendelton's visit to the museum was also very positive.

Over 570 presentations have been completed by the St. Louis Gateway Chapter Education Program. Many thanks to Gene Ganz, Educational Program Chairman, and the dedicated speakers on the education team. Gene reported at the May meeting that the educational programs are now being designed to answer questions posed by students instead of making formal presentations. Presentations or Question-and-Answer sessions in 2014 included John Burroughs High School, Marquette High School, Lindbergh High School, St. Louis University High School, Truman Middle School, and Lafayette High School. At the Lafayette High School presentation Gene Ganz, Don Green, and Barbara Avooske spent a total of 7 class periods with students. Webster Groves High School hosted a Veterans Day program on November 7 and students met with veterans for a Q&A session. The Chapter had an educational table at the Veterans Fair at Meramec Bluffs Retirement Center on July 15 and spoke with attendees.

Chapter Meeting guests included 1) Mark Leach who spoke about his book "Why We Fought". The book recounts the history of Holocaust survivors and U. S. forces that liberated the concentration camps. It was pointed out that 17 of our members are mentioned in the book; 2) Phil Modrell with the Missouri Veterans History Project encouraged members to participate in this project to interview veterans and record their life history, including early years, war service, and life following the war. The interviews are preserved on DVDs and sent to the Library of Congress; 3) John Stoeffler who represented the Sweet Dreams Picture Pillow Project. The organization makes pillows with a photo of children's loved ones who are deployed on military duty. The organization is a not-for-profit entity and gives the pillows to children at no cost; 4) Margie Walsh of the St. Louis Science Center spoke about the D-Day Anniversary Commemoration at the Science Center. She arranged for a special viewing in June of the Omnimax film D-Day, Normandy 1944 for World War II veterans. The event was well attended with approximately 1,000 visitors and 26 World War ** veterans. We had two tables of information about the St. Louis Gateway VBOB Chapter. Additionally, the Science Center offered veterans free admission and parking to view the film at the OmniMax for dates in July, November, and December; 5) Representatives from Walgreens provided flu shots and refreshments to the members in October; 6) Bob Daines relayed his war-time experiences to the November Chapter meeting attendees and told the story of seeing Charles de Gaulle and Winston Churchill in Paris on Armistice Day 1944. In remembrance of the 96th Anniversary of the end of World War I, Ben presented the story of a World War I doughboy based on his original letters written during his time in the war.

The guest speaker at the annual Memorial Ceremony on December 16 was Prof. John McManus, Professor of History and Political Science at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, with a crowd in excess of 100 in attendance. He eloquently spoke of the hardships and conditions encountered by those who participated in the Battle of the Bulge, which ‘hastened the demise of one of history’s most monstrous tyrannies”. Victory at the Battle of the Bulge happened “because so many of you had the valor and the will to make it happen.”

The Chapter Christmas Party in December was a gala event. Certificates of Appreciation were presented by President Dave Schroeder to Memorial Ceremony guest speaker Professor John McManus, halftrack owner and operator Rod Stout, Marvin Korte, Clyde Erb, Don Green, and Gene Ganz. An additional certificate will be presented to Kent Stephens, who was unable to attend due to illness.

This year’s guests from the Missouri Veterans Home were George Carper (Tuskegee Airmen), Calvin Kneemiller, (87th Infantry Division), and Jauan Davis (Caregiver). Many thanks to Doris Davis for providing complimentary tickets for these honored guests.

Requiem in Peace 2014: Leroy Berkel, Henry Calbreath, Firmen R. "Dick" Cotter, Ruth Cox, Francis Lautenschlaeger, Joseph McKitrick, Phillip McKnight, Millie Knize, and William Wendell.

With gratitude and fondness we remember Associate Member Millie Knize who passed away in December. Millie was the first President of the Ladies’ Auxiliary, serving in that capacity for many years. She founded the Edward Knize Educational fund, which helped finance the “Everyday Heroes of the Battle of the Bulge” video. Millie was editor of the Chapter newsletter for seven years before stepping down in 2006. As an active member of the late Harold Mueller's Educational Speaking Team, Millie visited hundreds of local schools to talk about her experiences on the homefront during World War II.

Clyde Erb was sworn-in as Chapter Vice-President at the May business meeting filling this vacant office. Chapter election for the offices of president and treasurer (2-year terms) were held at the November meeting. Ralph Forys nominated Dave Schroeder as President and Marvin Korte as Treasurer. The motion was seconded and carried unanimously. Vice President Clyde Erb conducted the swearing-in ceremony.


Outstanding Events

The following are some of the more outstanding events that have taken place since those eleven veterans of the Battle of the Bulge sat down to have lunch and the dream was born. The St. Louis Gateway Chapter could become a reality.

  • Educational Program The Gateway Chapter has conducted hundreds of presentations since the first at Windsor Middle School on November 9, 1995. Our members believe that reaching out to educate younger generations is the greatest opportunity to perpetuate the memories and sacrifices. Chapter and Auxiliary members have shared their personal experiences, bringing a unique dimension to historic events. Prepared presentations helped to bring history alive to a variety of audiences and featured memorabilia as well as personal stories from both the military perspective and what it was like 'back home' for family and communities during this difficult time. The format of the educational program has evolved into more of a question and answer interaction with enthusiastic audiences, many of them high school students. Additionally, our members have been interviewed by the media, participated in local television events, contributed to book & video projects, and written articles which appeared in various publications. Booths at local community events, including the annual Kimmswick Weekend W.A.V.E. "We Appreciate Our Veterans" and the World War II Weekend, provide the opportunity for the general public to meet our members and learn about the Battle of the Bulge and the freedoms won during World War II.
  • Memorial Monument: One of the most significant achievements was the planning, funding, and erection of the St. Louis Gateway Chapter's Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge Memorial Monument. The monument is located in Jefferson Barracks Park on the bluffs overlooking the mighty Mississippi River. It was dedicated October 12, 1997 to those veterans of the Battle of the Bulge who fought and those who died during this six-week battle of World War II.
  • GI Statue The American bronze GI Statue was dedicated to all those veterans who served our great country during World War II. The GI Statue project took two years, five months and 10 days. Many thanks to all who made donations and those who worked countless hours to help make the project a success! The statue is located in the vicinity of the Veterans Battle of the Bulge Monument in the area just north of the Powder Museum in Jefferson Barracks Park. Installation was completed in the summer of 2009 and a dedication ceremony was held on Saturday, August 15 (the anniversary of V-J Day).
  • Annual Memorial Ceremony: The St. Louis Gateway Chapter has held an annual memorial ceremony on December 16th of every year since 1993 to honor the veterans of the Battle of the Bulge. Originally, the ceremonies were held at the location of the Battle of the Bulge Memorial Monument in Jefferson Barracks Park but were moved to an indoor venue in 2007. Many distinguished keynote speakers have graciously honored our veterans and attendance has been excellent.
  • Parades and Civic Events: The St. Louis Gateway Chapter has taken part in many parades and other civic events throughout the years. Local communities in the greater metropolitan area are very excited with the members participation in these events.
  • Hosting the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge: The St. Louis Gateway Chapter proudly served as the host Chapter for the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge held December 16, 1994. This historical event was the only 50th Anniversary of World War II to be held in the continental United States. Over 1900 were in attendance at this four-day celebration. Many members of the Gateway Chapter served on the committee and met with the Chairman of the 50th Anniversary, Mr. Bill Tayman and Col. Robert Wells from Scott Field.

Years in Review (2007-2013)

2013 Activities/Events

We celebrated our 20th Anniversary as the St. Louis Gateway VBOB Chapter in January 2013. President Kent Stephens recalled that of the 100 Charter Members, 18 are still living, 60 have died, and 22 are inactive. Gaynell Bronenkamp, who served faithfully as President of the Ladies Auxiliary, will be greatly missed.

The effort to archive Chapter documents and photos is proceeding nicely as Ready Press has scanned 234 items and additional items are being collected and scanned on an on-going basis.

In 2013 the Gateway Chapter participated in the Annual World War II Weekend in Jefferson Barracks Park in April, the Collinsville Memorial Day parade in May, Webster Groves 4th of July parade, Wildwood Founders' Day Celebration in August, Affton Days Parade in September, the annual Veterans Day Program at Webster Goves High School, Rock HIll festivities, the Collinsville Veterans Day parade, and the annual VBOB Memorial Service on December 16. Chapter celebrations also included the anuual Members' picnic and Christmas Gala.

Our speaking teams have conducted over 565 presentations since the first at Windsor Middle School on November 9, 1995. Many thanks to Gene Ganz, Educational Program Chairman, and the dedicated speakers on the education team. Presentations in 2013 included Brentwood High School, Lindbergh High School, Pond Elementary 4th grades, Oakville Middle School, Affton Sr. High, and Lafayette High School. Jay Buck the US History teacher at Lafayette High School honored Battle of the Bulge Veterans during their graduation ceremony. Educating others about the Battle of the Bulge and the service and sacrifices of those involved is an important aspect of our Chapter's mission.

Ben Weber spearheaded the project for new landscaping and lighting at the VBOB Monument. The project consisted of planting 22 boxwood bushes and 160 liriope plants in the space formerly occupied by rose bushes and remulching the plantings. Additionally, two red bud trees and a red rose bush were planted at the location. The lighting was upgraded to eight LED fixtures with a photocell with dusk-to-dawn capabilities. Many thanks to June Hutson, Missouri Botanical Garden; Tom Ott, Director of St. Louis County Parks; Jan Blassie, Horticulture Specialist; Mugs Michaelree, JB Park Supervisor; MPR Supply for the lighting materials; Dennis Fitzwilliam of Mound City Gardens who assisted with planting and installation, and Bill Pilger, Gateway Chapter Member who helped make these improvements possible.

The Ladies Auxiliary is an active and vital asset of the Gateway Chapter. Christmas donations were divided between the USO and VA transportation Department this year. They also provide refreshments at various celebrations, donate attendance prizes, organize games at the picnic, and much more.

The annual Memorial Service was held at Royale Orleans on December 16, 2013. A very large crowd was in attendance to hear an entertaining and informative talk by this year’s speaker, Rear Admiral Lee Metcalf (US Navy, Retired). Admiral Metcalf began with an overview of today’s Navy and the current challenges due to the wide area of conflicts. He then described Operation Tiger, which took place in April of 1944 in preparation for the D-Day landings. The exercise turned deadly when German U-boats discovered the operation and attacked, resulting in hundreds of US casualties.'

Requiem in Peace 2013: Del Bordner, Wilbur Cruse, Wally Gaterman, Linus Gittemeier, Carl Gray, Paul James, Glen Jarvis, Jim Johnson, Michael Levcowich, Dorris Malear, Adrien D. Mead, Harold Mueller, Joseph Potter, Ray Saul, Dr. John Summers, Richard J. Swatske, and Joseph Vosbikian. Gaynell Bronenkamp (past President Ladies’ Auxiliary and wife of member Ed Bronenkamp) and Carol Johnson (past Vice-President Ladies' Auxiliary and wife of member Jim Johnson).

Mark Leach, who is writing a book regarding the liberation of the Germany concentration camps, attended the June meeting and brought along Ben Fainer, a holocaust survivor, who was in a prison camp that was liberated by the 26th Yankee Division in April 1944. Three of our Gateway Chapter members are veterans of the Yandee Division and attended this meeting. Clyde Erb, Ralph Forys and W. Kent Stephens were involved in the liberation of the camp where Ben was held prisoner. Ben shared stories of his time in the prison camp and answered many questions for the Gateway Chapter Members. As one of the youngest holocaust survivors, interned at the tender age of 9 1/2, Ben thanked the guys like our Chapter Members who liberated them. He was taken by the Nazis with his father but they were separated. He lost his mother and three younger siblings in the camp. Ben speaks to schools and organizations to educate about this aspect of World War II history and sacrifices made toward the freedoms we enjoy today.

Chapter meeting attendance: January: 41 members and associate members: 20 ladies and two visitors; Ryan Ganz and Bobby Ganz's sister. February: 35 members and associate members, 22 ladies and Paul Dillon, a visitor. March: 36 members and associate members, 21 ladies, and no visitors. April: 34 members and associate members, 19 ladies and 1 visitor who was Jesuit Priest Father Weiss, who served in the Rainbow Division during WWII, were present. May: 34 members and associate members plus 25 ladies were present. June: 33 members and associate members plus 18 ladies were present along with four guests: Mark Leach, who is writing a book about the liberation of the Nazi concentration camps, Ben Fainer, a holocaust survivor, Sally Branson, widow of the late VBOB member Charles Branson, and Danielle Kronbein who lived in Luxembourg during WWII. July: 31 members and associate members plus 15 ladies were present. Two visitors: Anita Hendrichson and Ester Keehoff from Texas joined as well. August: 31 members and associate members plus 20 ladies and 1 visitor were present, the visitor was the daughter of new member Tom Christianson. September: the annual members-only picnic is held in lieu of a regular meeting. November: 37 members and associate members plus 16 ladies. There was no regular meeting in December in lieu of the annual Memorial Ceremony and Christmas Luncheon which was well attended with approximately 145 members and guests.

2012 Activities/Events

January 2012 marks the 19th Birthday/Anniversary of the Gateway Chapter. As always, we started with the New Year's toast to all who served in the Battle of the Bulge - a synchronized toast across time zones, 2:00 pm CST, with the beverage of your choice.

Chapter members participated in numerous celebrations and observances including the 27th Annual World War II Weekend, Memorial Day Services and parades at Jefferson Barracks and in Collinsville, the Webster Groves July 4 Parade, the annual Chapter members' picnic, Affton Days Parade, Rock Hill parade, Veterans Day events in St. Louis, Webster Groves, and Collinsville, as well as the Annual Memorial Ceremony and Gala Christmas Party on December 16.

With the support of Helen Keilholz, the Gateway Chapter voted to allow the Jefferson Barracks Heritage Foundation to permanently display the VBOB Quilt in the old Red Crosss Building at Jefferson Barracks. The goal of the Foundation is to create a museam complex honoring the service and sacrifices of the American Citizen Soldier, Volunteer and Veteran on the grounds of the Jefferson Barracks Historic District. The quilt was made in 1998 by Helen Keilholz and will now be on display five days per week with the Heritage Foundation.

Chapter Members participated in the third annual "History Alive" program sponsored by Brad Durnell, history teacher at Lindbergh High School. According to Durnell, "the goal of this program is to connect various generations and promote meaningful conversations through a series of interviews between the students of today and America's veterans."

Gateway Chapter Member Dick Cotter was profiled in a feature article in Newsline, the official publication of the National Horseshoe Pitchers Association. The article, entitled "A Hero, an Officer, and a Gentleman Visit the Hall of Fame", describes Dick Cotter as a man whose sheer determination and faith got him through all his trials and triumphs.

Gateway Chapter Life Member Edgar "Ted" Cox has co-authored a book, The Men of Fox Company, describing the actions of F Company, 291st Infantry Regiment, 75th Infantry Division during World War II. The book is a history and recollections of members of Fox, particularly men who had written Ted letters shortly after the war when their memories were still sharp. Ted was commissioned as an infantry second lieutenant in May of 1942 and was assigned to Fox Company as the executive officer in 1944. Ted took command when the first commander was seriously wounded during the Battle of the Bulge.

Gateway Chapter Member Bernie Schwender was the keynote speaker at this hometown Memorial Day parade in Glasgow, Missouri. He spoke of growing up locally, attending Basic Training at Jefferson Barracks, meeting his future bride Loraine, who promised to wait for him while he was away in service to his country, and about his experiences in World War II. As a VBOB Chapter Member, Bernie participated in the Education Program and enjoyed speaking to and answering questions of the students during the presentations. He urged everyone to visit the VBOB Monument site overlooking the beautiful Mississippi River and the museums in Jefferson Barracks Park.

Election of Chapter Officers were held for offices of President and Treasurer. W. Kent Stephens was elected for another term as President and Marvin Korte was re-elected as Treasurer.

Our speaking teams have conducted over 543 presentations since the first at Windsor Middle School on November 9, 1995. Educating others about the Battle of the Bulge and the service and sacrifices of those involved is an important aspect of our Chapter's mission. The Chapter receives numerous invitations from local schools and organizations throughout the year and this is a great opportunity to perpetuate the memories and sacrifices. Presentations and memorabilia from this important historic time delivered personally by people who experienced it first-hand adds a unique dimension.

The Ladies Auxiliary celebrated their 18th Anniversary on Valentine's Day in 2012. The Auxiliary provides refreshments at various celebrations, organizes the Lunch Bunch, donates attendance prizes, and much more.

The Annual Memorial Ceremony was held indoors on December 16 at Royale Orleans. A capacity crowd attended this year's event, thanks in part to the warm weather and Dottie Light's letter to the Editor in the Post-Dispatch. The speaker was Brigadier General Mike Callan (USAF, Ret.; Assoc. VP for Military and Government Programs at Webster University). General Callan spoke of the sacrifices of those who took part in the Battle of the Bulge and gave us an assessment of the current US military presence. Secretary Clyde Erb read the names of Gateway Chapter members who passed away in 2012: Stan Gibson (99th INFD), George Shimkus (3rd AARMD), Karl Das (9th INFD); Don Olson (26th INFD), Robert Enkelman (102nd INFD), Elmer Fischer (36th INFD), James Parker (Associate Member), Leonard Bolhafner (84th INFD), George Naught (9th AARMD), Glenn Hillgartner (87th INFD), Walter Matthews (106th INFD), Leo Rufkahr (35th INFD), Richard Kalbacker (3rd ARMY), James McCulloch (158th Combat Eng), Billy Stiegemeier (87th INFD), William Crawford (84th INFD), Bernie Schwender (75th INFD), Jim Green (75th INFD), Ken Long (1st ARMY), Bill Vogel (6th ARMMD), and Robert Fuerst (87th INFD).

2011 Activities/Events

We started 2011 with a New Year's toast to all who served in the Battle of the Bulge - a synchronized toast across time zones, 2:00 pm CST, with the beverage of your choice. We celebrated our Chapter's 18th Birthday at our January meeting and the Ladies Auxiliary celebrated their 17th Birthday in February.

Chapter members participated in numerous celebrations and observances including the 26th Annual World War II Weekend April 14-16, Memorial Day Services and parades, a flag raising at Sherbrook Village, the Webster Groves July 4 Parade, the Living History Hayrides Sept 10-11, the annual Chapter members' picnic September 13, Affton Days Parade September 17, Rock Hill parade on October 1, Veterans Day events in St. Louis, Collinsville and Webster Groves in November, and the Annual Memorial Ceremony and the Gala Christmas Party December 16.

The Gateway Chapter was pleased to have a visit of a number of Russian delegates, llya V. Savchenko, Timur Botvin, Roman Ryabintsev, Georgy Kaytukov, Magomed Magomedomarov and Natalya Paleeva, from the Moscow School of Political Studies. The visit was arranged through the auspices of the University of Missouri–St. Louis' Center for International Studies and coordinated by Professor Jerol Enoch. The Russian visitors met with about 25 members in May to thank them for their service in World War II and hear their recollections of meeting Russian soldiers during the war. To honor V-E Day (May 8), the Russian delegates presented the Chapter with an evergreen tree, which was planted near the Battle of the Bulge Monument and WWII GI Statue in Jefferson Barracks Park a few days later.

After many years, our Chapter has been able to locate folks from the Belgium Luxembourg area. Marc Vanacht, who lived in Belguim, and Denielle Kronsbein, who grew up in Luxembourg during World War II, who are now living in the St. Louis area. October 11 guest Ann Wagner, former US Ambassador to Luxembourg, attended the monthly Chapter meeting and met Danielle. Marc Vanacht speaks French and was able to translate a letter that was given to Millie Knize's husband, Edward, while he was in the Bel-Lux area during the war. This letter was a prayer written by a young school girl.

Congratulations to Gateway Chapter members who were honored this year: Billy Stiegemeier was honored by the Serve Illinois Commission on Volunteerism and Community Service and presented with one of the 2011 Governor's Volunteer Service Awards for his work with Post 1241 of the Veterans of Foreign Wars. Bill Pilger received his long-overdue Gateway Chapter Certificate of Appreciation for his countless hours tending to the Battle of the Bulge and World War II GI Statue and the surrounding area in Jefferson Barracks Park.

Our speaking teams have conducted over 460 presentations since the first at Windsor Middle School on November 9, 1995. Educating others about the Battle of the Bulge and the service and sacrifices of those involved is an important aspect of our Chapter's mission. The Chapter receives numerous invitations from local schools and organizations throughout the year and this is a great opportunity to perpetuate the memories and sacrifices. Presentations and memorabilia from this important historic time delivered personally by people who experienced it first-hand adds a unique dimension.

The Ladies Auxiliary is an active and vital asset of our Chapter, contributing to the JB Veterans' Hospital, the USO, the Soldiers' Wish List, the Monument Fund, the GI Statue Project, collecting food for area poor, providing refreshments at various celebrations, organizing the Lunch Bunch, donating attendance prizes, and much more.

The Annual Memorial Ceremony, held December 16, was well attended. Marc Vanacht and Ben Weber, both Gateway Chapter Associate Members, were guest speakers. Marc spoke about this recollections of the Battle of the Bulge as a child in Belgium and Ben shared a letter he had written to his children some time ago, explaining why those who fought in the Bulge should be considered ‘soldiers of the impossible.'

2010 Activities/Events

Our Chapter has accomplished much over the past 17 years. We have had over 800 Battle of the Bulge veterans and associate members join our Chapter, hosted the December 1994 Anniversary of the battle of the Bulge in St. Louis, contributed our stories to the book "Victory Through Valor", planned and completed the VBOB monument and the GI Statue located at Jefferson Barracks Historical Park, and remembered all who fought and sacrificed at the annual December 16 Memorial Ceremony.

In 2010, Chapter members participated in numerous celebrations and observances including the World War II Weekend April 23-25, Kimmswick Weekend W.A.V.E. "We Appreciate Our Veterans" May 16-17, Memorial Day Services & the dedication of the Veterans Memorial at Arnold VFW Post 2593, July 4 Flag Raising Ceremony, Living History Hayrides Sept 11-12, the annual Chapter members' picnic September 14, Affton Days Parade September 18, Veterans Day Parades, and the Annual Memorial Ceremony and the Gala Christmas Party December 16.

Our speaking teams have conducted over 416 presentations since the first at Windsor Middle School on November 9, 1995. Educating others about the Battle of the Bulge and the service and sacrifices of those involved is an important aspect of our Chapter's mission. Speaking teams provide presentations and show memorabilia to school classes and other groups. Hearing about this important historic time from people who experienced it personally adds a unique dimension. Reaching out to educate the younger generations is the greatest opportunity to perpetuate the memories and sacrifices.

The St. Louis Gateway Chapter of the Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge recognized the 10,000th visitor to the Battle of the Monument in Jefferson Barracks Park in south St. Louis County. Denise Kahle of Lemay visited the park, along with her children Lilly, Lexi and Jackson on September 11th as part of the Living History Hayrides held Sept 11-12. President Kent Stephens presented Denise with a complimentary DVD on the Battle of the Bulge and a book describing the construction of the World War II GI Statue, which was dedicated last August in Jefferson Barracks Park, a short distance from the monument.

2009 Activities/Events

The GI Statue project was successfully completed in 2009! The American bronze GI Statue is dedicated to all those Veterans who served our great country during World War II. It is located in the vicinity of the Veterans, Battle of the Bulge Monument in the area just north of the Powder Museum in Jefferson Barracks Park. The statue was installed during the summer and a dedication ceremony was held on Saturday, August 15 (the anniversary of V-J Day) before an overflow crowd. A Book of Honor was published that includes the names of those who donated at least $25 toward the project. A Certificate of Appreciation was awarded to Maxim Construction Company and crew for their generous donation of time and construction materials for the walkway and patio where the GI Statue is standing. Many thanks to all who worked so hard in so many different capacities to make the GI Statue a reality since it was first proposed back in 2007.

The Annual Memorial Ceremony was held indoors at Royale Orleans on Dec 16 (the 65th anniversary of the start of the Battle of the Bulge) with a record crowd in attendance. Ann Wagner, former United States Ambassador to Luxembourg, was keynote speaker and spoke about the gratitude of the people of Luxembourg toward the US soldiers who liberated them not once but twice. She educated the audience about some of her duties as Ambassador and shared stories about experiences of her family and the children's international relationships.

Throughout 2009, Chapter members were very active in the community and the educational committee continues to visit local schools and organizations to teach about the Battle of the Bulge and the sacrifices made for the freedoms we enjoy today. Celebrations and observances during the year included: World War II Weekend April 24-26, our fourth year at the Kimmswick Weekend W.A.V.E. "We Appreciate Our Veterans" in May, Memorial Day Parade in Jefferson Barracks on May 25, Memorial Day Ceremonies at the Collinsville American Legion Hall (the parade was rained out), Dedication of the Arnold War Memorial on May 25, attendance at the Annual Flag Raising Ceremony on July 4 in Kirkwood, the annual Chapter picnic September 8, Affton Days Parade September 19, Veterans Day Parades in downtown St. Louis and in Collinsville and hosting the Annual Memorial Ceremony.

Millie Knize, the founder and first President of the Ladies Auxiliary, celebrated her ninetieth birthday on Flag Day, June 14, 2009. Millie participates in the presentations at the schools helping to educate students about what it was like for the women while the men were overseas fighting in the Battle of the Bulge.

Chapter members were interviewed and/or featured in the news on numerous occasions in 2009 including the Dedication of the GI Statue on August 15 and a feature narrated by John Auble (FOX 2 KTVI) on November 10.

2008 Activities/Events

Our Chapter has grown to be one of the largest VBOB Chapters in the National organization! Highlights from 2008 include the Honor Flight trip to Washington DC, the debut of "Victory Through Valor" and progress toward erecting a GI Statue in Jefferson Barracks Park. The Educational Team continues to visit schools and organizations to inform and educate them about what it was really like for the veterans and families during WWII.

Chapter members participated in numerous celebrations and observances including the World War II Weekend April 25-27, Memorial Day Services, Kimmswick Weekend W.A.V.E. "We Appreciate Our Veterans" May 24-25, Arnold VFW Weekend June 7-8, the annual Chapter picnic September 9, Affton Days Parade September 20, Veterans Day Parades, Annual Memorial Ceremony and the Gala Christmas Party December 16.

The recent release of the book "Victory Through Valor", featuring the stories of over 100 Gateway Chapter veterans and their wives has been a huge success. Over 200 people attended the book launch on October 4 where dozens of the members featured in the book were on hand to sign autographs, share their experiences and observe a presentation by the Educational Team.

Many Gateway Chapter members were among a group of St. Louis-area World War II veterans who were flown to Washington DC as part of the Franklin County Honor Flight Program on September 17. They visited the World War II Memorial, Korean War Veterans Memorial, Iwo Jima Memorial and Arlington Cemetery and were cheered by hundreds at their arrival in Washington DC and upon their return to St. Louis.

The Annual Memorial Ceremony was held indoors due to icy weather conditions and Col. Robert Wells (USAF, Ret.) gave an emotional and moving keynote speech. The Gala Christmas Party that followed featured delicious food and musical entertainment. President Kent Stephens presented certificates of recognition to Forrest Miller of Royale Orleans, Col. Robert Wells, Don Korte and outgoing Chaplain Glenn Hillgartner.

Plans for a GI Statue in Jefferson Barracks Park near the VBOB Monument site continue. This is a multi-year project and we look forward to more progress in 2009.

2007 Activities/Events

2007 was another successful year for the St. Louis Gateway Chapter Veterans, Battle of the Bulge. Our Educational program, under the leadership of Jim Johnson, continued to present programs to many schools and organizations boasting over 371 presentations in 12 years. January 1, 2007 marked the debut of the Gateway Chapter website which allows visitors from all over the world to learn about the Battle of the Bulge and the St. Louis Gateway Chapter. We have received 'hits' and correspondence from both far and near and also new members with this new global exposure.

The Chapter participated in many events and parades in 2007. Some of these include: "Salute to Veterans Day" in Kimmswick, Collinsville Memorial Day Parade, Memorial Day Parade at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, Webster Groves Independence Day Parade, Arnold VFW Veterans Day in August, Affton Days Parade in September, Annual VBOB Picnic, flag retirement ceremonies, Veterans Day Parade in Collinsville, Veterans Day Programs at Boeing-McDonnell and Parkway South High School, the annual Memorial Ceremony and the Gala Christmas Luncheon.

The St. Louis PBS station, Channel 9, conducted interviews of our Gateway Chapter members in late spring and summer and broadcast some of the videos on their show called 'Living St. Louis'. In September there was a viewing of the Ken Burns documentary, "THE WAR", of the years 1941-1945 on all the PBS stations. A special thanks for Channel 9 Kate Shaw and Anne-Marie Berger for the interviews and for attending our picnic in September.

Annual elections for three Chapter Offices were held on November 13. Results: Jim Johnson, Vice-President, Clyde Erb, Secretary and Don Green, Sergeant-at-Arms.

The annual VBOB Memorial Ceremony was held on December 16 with a change in venue (indoors at Royale Orleans Hall) due to icy/snowy weather. The names of Chapter members who had passed away in 2007 were read aloud by Secretary Steigemeier. The 2nd Rangers re-enactors took part in the memorial ceremony as they have in past years. The annual Gala Christmas Luncheon followed the Memorial Ceremony. Certificates of appreciation were awarded to retiring secretary Bill Stiegemeier, Kevin Owens of the 2nd Ranger Bn and Gary Adkins of the 1st Special Services Forces. Quilt raffle proceeds of over $800, the sale of Christmas ornaments and the raffle of a bird house/feeder will benefit the GI Statue or Monument Area projects. Special thanks to Helen Keilholz, Jacob Wright and Sue Willimas for the generouse donations of these items.

Forrest from Royale Orleans indicated that they have done several fundraisers for the USO at Lambert Field, and that this year's donation (in excess of $2,500) was being donated in honor of the St. Louis Gateway Chapter of the Veterans Battle of the Bulge.


Chapter Chronology

The following is a chronology of events of the formation of the St. Louis Gateway Chapter of Veterans of the Battle of the Bulge.

Article Regarding VBOB 50th Anniversary Sparks Idea (Nov-Dec 1992)

Kent Stephens received a complimentary issue of the Veterans Battle of the Bugle (VBOB) publication in November 1992 and an article regarding the 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge to be held in St. Louis, MO in December of 1994 caught his attention. The article contained an appeal for help from any members of the Battle of the Bulge organization living in the St. Louis area to serve on the 50th Anniversary committee. After reading the article, Kent wrote to the Headquarters of the VBOB requesting the names of local VBOB veterans who had responded to the publicized appeal. Kent and other St. Louis area veterans of the 26th (Yankee) Infantry Division (YD) had been gathering at luncheon meetings and sharing their memories for a few years prior to 1992. This was an opportunity to reach out to others to share memories and honor those who served their country proudly and with great courage.

In reply to his letter dated December 1, 1992, Nancy Monson, Secretary of the VBOB, sent Kent a list of nine VBOB members who had responded to the appeal and lived in the St. Louis area. The list contained the names of Harold Mueller, George Kegler, Clarence Lauman, Vincent Clooney, Elias Hydar, Walter Gaterman, Robert Gravlin, William Studt and Peter Mayer. Subsequently, Kent contacted Stewart Piper, a fellow Yankee Division veteran, about scheduling another luncheon meeting and inviting the above mentioned VBOB veterans to determine if there was enough interest among all these VBOB veterans to start a Chapter of the VBOB in the St. Louis area.

St. Louis Area Yankee Divison Veterans Meet VBOB Veterans (Dec 17, 1992)

Kent Stephens invited all nine of the VBOB members along with 24 of the St. Louis Yankee Division veterans to a luncheon meeting on December 17, 1992 at Pietro's Restaurant (Watson Rd. in St. Louis). First Meeting - Click for larger viewSix of the YD veterans (Elder Etzold, Rudy Braun, Stewart Piper, Morris Williams, Eddie Hicks and Kent Stephens) along with five of the VBOB members (Pete Mayer, George Kegler, Harold Mueller, Clarence Lauman, and Bill Studt) attended this historic meeting. Interesting note: All of the YD veterans were acquainted with each other, but of the VBOB members only Bill Studt and Pete Mayer knew each other.

After enjoying lunch and getting acquainted, the possibility of starting a VBOB chapter in St. Louis was discussed. Harold Mueller had a list of 34 VBOB members living in the St. Louis area and, with the 24 Yankee Division veterans, it was determined that there were enough veterans of the Battle of the Bulge to charter a local Chapter.

Organizational Meeting Set for Jan 21, 1993 at Gardenville Community Center

Harold Mueller and Stewart Piper volunteered for the task of finding a location for the next organizational meeting set for January 21, 1993. Stewart Piper, a member of the St. Louis Horseshoe Club which met at Gardenville Community Center (Gravois & Kingshighway in St. Louis), offered to contact the Community Center about having the meeting at this location.

Kent Stephens collected the names of the VBOB members and offered to send a letter to all the VBOB and the YD veterans. All meeting attendees were enthusiastic about the possibility of the startup of a VBOB Chapter in the St. Louis area and this first luncheon meeting broke up at 2:45.

Contacting Veterans

Kent Stephens contacted Harry Levins of the St. Louis Post Dispatch, Bob Hardy of radio station KMOX and the Collinsville Herald asking for assistance with publicizing the January 21, 1993 VBOB meeting. Letters were sent to all the known veterans of the Battle of the Bugle.

Stewart Piper, Harold Mueller and Kent Stephens volunteered to serve as primary contacts to answer questions and provide any information concerning the VBOB Chapter. Approximately 150 notices of the meeting were mailed to those who responded to the newspaper and radio publicity. There were many phone calls over the next few weeks and the response to the letters was just great.

Overwhelming Attendance at First VBOB Meeting (Jan 21, 1993)

Attendance at the January 21, 1993 meeting was overwhelming with a standing room crowd of 102 VBOB veterans. There was much talk about the startup of the VBOB Chapter and the upcoming 50th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bugle in St. Louis.

Plans were made for the next meeting to be held February 16, 1993 at 1:00 pm at Gardenville Community Center with the promise of a larger room and seating for all that were able to attend. Those who attended were asked to extend an invitation to any VBOB veterans that they knew who might be interested in joining the St. Louis VBOB Chapter.

The National VBOB Headquarters was contacted after the meeting and told about the meetings in St. Louis. Stanley Wojtuski, chairman for new VBOB Chapters, subsequently contacted Kent Stephens. Stanley said that the necessary papers for the formation of a VBOB Chapter would be sent as soon as possible.

Harold Mueller, Stewart Piper, Dick Cotter, Robert Ward and Kent Stephens volunteered to serve as a committee until all the Chapter information was received from the National Veterans Battle of the Bulge Headquarters.

Note of interest: Kent Stephens met Dick Cotter, who had been in the Headquarters Battery of the 101st Field Artillery of the 26th Yankee Infantry Division, at the first meeting held at the Gardenville Community Center.

VBOB Organizing Committee Submits Proposals (Feb 16, 1993)

The February 16, 1993 meeting was canceled due to a heavy snow storm that pretty well shut down the city. The February meeting was rescheduled for February 24, 1993 at the Gardenville Community Center.

The VBOB committee (Harold Mueller, Dick Cotter and Stewart Piper) presented the proposed constitution and by-laws for the St. Louis Gateway VBOB Chapter. Yearly dues were discussed and it was decided to set the annual dues at $10.00.

A computer roster of approximately 232 VBOB veterans was given to Bob Ward, acting secretary, for all future correspondence. Next meeting date was set for March 3, 1993 at the Gardenville Community Center and the meeting closed at 2:30 pm.

Election of Officers and Establishing Policy (March 3, 1993)

Acting President Kent Stephens opened the meeting at 1:00 pm with a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag. Twenty-five members were in attendance. Business items were as follows:

  • Minutes of the January 21 and February 24 meetings were read and approved.
  • Election of Officers: a slate of officers was presented to the membership:
    • President - Kent Stephens
    • Vice President - Stewart Piper
    • Secretary - Robert (Bob) Ward
    • Treasurer - Harold Mueller
    • Sgt. At Arms - Dick Cotter
  • A motion was made and seconded that the presented slate of officers be elected by acclimation. The vote was unanimous.
  • Chapter name selected: St. Louis Gateway Chapter.
  • The By-laws and Constitution as presented by the committee were discussed and when put to a vote, were accepted as written.
  • Yearly dues of $10.00 were proposed, discussed and unanimously approved.
  • Charter Members: It was decided that the first one hundred Battle of the Bulge veterans who joined the Gateway Chapter would be considered charter members.
  • Meeting Schedule: It was voted to have monthly meetings on the second Tuesday of each month, unless otherwise determined by the elected officers.