July 13, 2010

The General George Patton Scholarship of Honor in Pilsen Czech Republic

Doug LaViolette recently had the privilege of attending the Liberation Celebration of the City of Pilsen in the Czech Republic. May 6th, 2010 marked the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Pilsen by General George Patton's 3rd Army.

Our good friend Bob Nueske, was relentless in making sure he experienced what he had a couple years ago. Both he and Doug had served in the United States Army back in the late 60's, and not far from this city.

The events of May 1-9 were truly life-changing in so many ways. We hope the following snapshots that Doug captured will help share his time there. What he witnessed was the love of America and the American Soldier- even 65 years after the liberation of their city.

To show their respect, thousands of Czech citizens lined the streets for miles to pay tribute to General Patton and the American Soldier.

The week was filled with large crowds to private reflective moments, including this American family's private time to honor and remember their American hero. This is the crash site of Lt. Virgil P. Kirkham, the last recorded American USAAF pilot killed in Europe during WWII. It was Lt. Kirkham's 82nd mission and one that he volunteered to go on.

At the time this 20 year old pilot's P-47 Thunderbolt plane was shot down, a young 14 year old Czech girl, Zdenky Sladkove, was so moved by his sacrifice she made a vow to care for him and his memory.

For 65 straight years , Zdenky, now 79 years old, took on the responsibility to care for Virgil's crash site and memorial near her home.

Another chapter in this important story.....the Czech people are teaching their children about America's sacrifice for their freedom.
American Soldiers, young and old, are the ''Rock Stars'' these children and their parents want autographs from..

After witnessing these magical moments Bob Nueske asked how could we not start a scholarship in Pilsen?

So we're proud to announce starting next year, The Brian LaViolette Foundation will established The Scholarship of Honor in tribute to General George S. Patton and the American Soldier, past and present.

Thanks to Bob Nueske, we have the start of the endowment fund to make this possible.


Anonymous said...

God Bless these people ....
How wonderful that their children are taught that the soldiers should be their heros. A shame that in our country so many are dis respectful of those who are giving their lives for us to be free.
I love the Czech People I have been there twice and they are the most wonderful and resiliant people. Obviously they are able to keep a committment. Thanks for sharing this..

Anonymous said...

Virgil's brother, Marion Kirkham, lives right the road from my family. His grandchildren went to school with our children. The Kirkham famil is loved!
Marion visited our Kiwanis meeting a few weeks ago and shared with us.
Our last name is Maly. My husband's grandfather immigrated from Czechoslavakia and settled in Chicago. My husband visited the Czech Republic last year during a business trip to Germany. He was enchanted by the frienliness of the people and the simple lifestyle. I am looking forward to visiting one day!

Gale Boyd said...

My father, Reuben Schaetzel, was a WWII vet who drove a tank and liberated Pilzen 70 years ago. Due to the kindness and generosity of Kathy and Lee Anderson, we were able to visit this wonderful city and share in a life changing experience along with my dad! The Anderson's visited last year and when they heard of my father, they wanted to make it happen for our family.
The friendship, the love and the gratitude that was offered to us by the citizens of Pilzen will forever be imprinted on my soul. Meeting Doug, George Patton Waters, and getting a better understanding of the scholarship program added another level of awesomeness. Every American should get to Pilzen..we would be a different nation!! Gale Boyd/daughter of Reuben Schaetzel 101st Infantry