Long Island WWII Veterans Raising Funds For Trip Honor Dutch Caretakers of American Military Cemetery

A spectator plants flowers on a headstone at the Netherlands American Cemetery prior to the start of a Memorial Day ceremony May 25, 2014, Margraten, Netherlands. Dutch families can adopt a gravesite and maintain it as a way of showing respect for the actions of the fallen service member. (U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Airman Rusty Frank/Released)

Local advocates are holding a fundraiser Monday for up to 10 World War II vets to fly to the Netherlands in May to celebrate the 75th anniversary of Dutch liberation from German occupation.

Dubbed Mission Margraten 75, the fundraiser kicks off 6 p.m. on Veterans Day at Memories Bar & Grill, which is located at 121 Hillside Ave. in Williston Park. The event is $5 at the door. The goal is to raise $75,000 to cover the expenses for the trip.

“In addition, Mission Margraten 75 is actively seeking a physician plus a nurse to join our team for this historic trip to Holland,” said Roger Kilfoil, vice president of Honor Flight Long Island, who is spearheading the fundraiser.

Also spearheading the fundraiser are Gerrianne Puntervold and Sergeant First Class Patrick D’Ambrosio of Honor Flight Long Island, a Southampton-based nonprofit that has flown hundreds of thousands of WWII, Korean War, and Vietnam veterans to visit war memorials in Washington, D.C.

The Mission Margraten 75 campaign is in partnership with Boots on the Ground, a nonprofit organization that provides veterans with opportunities to get involved and stay connected by assisting fellow veterans on Long Island. 

For the Holland flight, up to 10 WWII veterans will be accompanied by one guardian per vet for the week-long liberation 75 celebrations during the week of May 18. One hundred percent of the funds raised will be used only for the trip, the advocates said.

The trip is significant to U.S. military veterans because for more than 75 years, Dutch families have cared for 8,300 graves of fallen Americans in Holland. Three times a year, Dutch families place flowers, flags, and photographs on the graves. During the 75th anniversary celebrations, American veterans plan to thank the Dutch families.

During the trip, the U.S. veterans will be guests of honor at Hotel Heerlen for a concert attended by 900 Dutch Grave Adoption Families. There, the veterans will present to the families symbolic pieces of Kershaw Granite, which was used to construct the WWII Memorial in Washington, D.C. They will also attend a Dutch Memorial Day Ceremony at the American Military Cemetery in Margraten, Holland. 

Donors can make checks payable to “Boots on the Ground, NY” with “MM75” on the memo line. Send donations to Boots on the Ground, NY, PO Box # 675, Bellport, New York 11713. All gifts are fully tax-deductible and tax certificates are available on request.

There is also a Facebook page plus a GoFundMe pageFor more information, visit missionmargraten.org email [email protected]  or call Roger Kilfoil at 631-766-3296.

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