June 2008 Newsletter
For all veterans, relatives and friends of the

VE-Day 2008: Bastgone, Belgium

Table of Contents: Click on the Link Below to Go To That Section:

Announcements and Editor's Notes
Email List
The Presidential Campaign and the 89th Infantry Division
VE-Day 2008

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Announcements, Editor's Notes and Website Developments

Greetings from Luxemburg, a little nation that the 89th veteran knows well. I am writing you from Luxembourg City, only 35 kilometers from Echternach where the 89th Infantry Division first entered combat against the German Army. The bus stop outside of my apartment stops at the US Military Cemetery, where a number of 89th men are buried. Those who accompanied us on the Tour of Remembrance in the year 2000 should remember this cemetery well.

I know it has been a very long time since I last updated the website. There are a number of personal and technical reasons for this (more on the technical reasons for this later on). On a personal note, as many of you know, my father is not doing well and the past two years have been quite difficult for our family. I know he and my mother extend their personal well wishes to each and every one of you.

My wife and I have finally realized our dream to move to Europe. She found a work here in Luxembourg last September and I arrived here in December of 2007. We are delighted to be living here. It allows me to peruse new research on the path of the 89th. See below for my participation on events surrounding VE-Day and the Liberation of the REIHAHG Slave Labor Camps.

Over the next coming months I will be attempting to re-build out email list and catch up on remaining requests, questions and correspondence. I would love to hear from you and welcome any letters or stories for publication in future newsletters.

Mark Kithcell, son of Raymond E Kitchell (Private First Class, 340th Field Artillery)
June 2008 Luxembourg City, Luxembourg

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Email List

One of the reasons you have not heard from me for a while is because I had a catastrophic loss of my email list in 2007. The vendor I used to send mass emails lost the 89th list and they did not have a backup. I am still trying to reconstruct the list. So, if you have any email addresses from an 89th veteran, relative of a veteran, or friend of the Division, PLEASE SEND IT TO ME.

Also, if you have sent me a request for information, or correspondence in the past 2 years, and you have not received a response, please send it again and I will get right to it.

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The Presidential Campaign and the 89th Infantry Division

The day after Memorial Day I read a news account of Barack Obama's speech the day before in Las Cruces, NM where he explained that his uncle had been one of the liberators of the Auschwitz concentration camp. My first response was UH-OH as this camp was liberated by the Soviets and the American Army was nowhere nearby. I closed my laptop and went to bed.

The next morning I awoke, and went to check my emails. To me shock I had over 50 emails from individuals and the press asking me to confirm that Obama's great-Uncle had been a member of the 89th Infantry Division. It turns out Mr. Obama had named the wrong camp, and that his great-Uncle (a Mr. Charles T. Payne) had actual been involved in the liberation of a sub-camp of Buchenwald (Ohrdruf) as a member of the 89th Infantry Division.

As the press clamored to verify this claim, they quickly realized that the Pentagon's personnel department would be of no use (they would probably process Mr. Payne's file six months after the election!!), so the 89th Division was the one of the only objective sources for this information.

We were able to verify this information fairly quickly: C T Payne was a member 355th Infantry Regiment, Company K. This unit is known to have entered Ohrdruf. A second source (independent of me) found a record of Charles T Payne of this same unit in a "Morning Report" dated April 11, 1945. Case closed.

This was in no way a political statement by me or the website. Simply a confirmation of facts.

You can read more on this item here: Article from the Tampa Bay Tribune

I am pleased to report the 89th Infantry received extensive promotion and press from this experience. Our website typically gets between 1,000 and 2,000 hits per day. On one SINGLE day in May we recorded over 50,000 hits!!!

Over the next two weeks I received over 700 (!!!!) emails. A great many were from right-wing nut-jobs who threatened me with physical harm, posted my address and phone number on the Internet, and made many sad and sick comments. However, what was most was their denigration of both the horrors of Ohrdruf and the service of the 89th Infantry Division. A common theme was that Ohrdruf was 'only' a 'work' camp, not a 'death' camp and thus NOT WORTHY OF CONSIDERATION AS A CONCENTRATION CAMP!!!! This sick attitude exposes these 'men' for what they are: Holocaust Deniers.

However of those 700 emails, at least 600 were from people nationwide expressing support for my father, the website, and the 89th Infantry Division. It was very heart-warming to read all these kind messages from rational adults.

I would like to make one personal statement to the 89th family. The men who founded the Nazi party in the 1920s were the dregs of German society. Yet they took advantage of various factors to take over the German state and lead the world into World War II. It is my opinion, especially after this incident, that those types of individuals also exist in these United States. They are also the dregs of our society, but we must forever maintain vigilance so that someday they do not attempt to crawl out of the gutter. Yes, we face a threat from external enemies, but we face a formidable threat from anti-democratic movements in our own country.

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VE-Day 2008

On May 8th of the year I was invited by Warrant Officer Patrick Brion of the Belgian Army to participate in V-E Day celebrations in the Bastogne region of Begium. It was a great honor and a pleasure for me. Here are some pictures of that day:

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