Flag of Friendship Award 2016
The Flag of Friendship was conceived by Doug Mitchell, chapter officer of the "Bulge Chapter" in 2012 as a way to thank European citizens for their service and remembrance of the men of the 106th Infantry Division. For many decades the Belgian people have paid tribute to the veterans of the Division. As the Greatest Generation is slowly fading away, they are now thanking the Belgians and other Europeans for their work in perpetuating their legacy. Since 2012 an American "Flag of Friendship" has been donated by the US 106th Infantry Division Association Inc. The "Bulge Chapter" is in charge of the formal organisation of the ceremony in close cooperation with the C-47 Club Ardennes Salm River Chapter, the City of St. Vith, the city of Vielsalm and CRIBA.
The FOF has been an annual commorative event since 2012, paired with a sister ceremony in Rencheux by the C-47 Club Ardennes Salm River Chapter.
WWII Sherman tanks are greeted by locals as they roll through the Hauptrasse in St. Vith for the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. These vehicles formed the Liberation Column South of the War Heritage Institute (WHI) which retraced the historic liberation routes in the Ardennes. (Photo C. Wouters)
In December 2019 Belgium and Luxembourg remembered the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. The German offensive, which started in the early hours of 16 December 1944 was fought in many small villages and larger towns in the eastern cantons of Belgium, like St. Vith. The preparations for the commemorations started in early 2019 and culminated with the remembrance ceremonies of 15 December 2019 and 21 January 2020, marking both the start and end of the offensive in the St. Vith region.
A new monument honoring all POW's was inaugurated in Schönberg on 15 December 2019 in the presence of WWII veteran Herb Sheaner, who served with Company G of the 422nd Infantry Regiment and was taken prisoner by the German 18. Volks Grenadier Division on 21 December 1944. He spent several months as a POW in Stalag IV-B and on several Arbeitskommandos near Berlin and Halle, before escaping. Herb at age 95 was one of two WWII veterans of the 106th Infantry Division who travelled to Belgium for the 75th anniversary.
The annual Flag of Friendship event in St. Vith was attended by several hundred people and no less than 23 WWII veterans from various divisions that fought in the Battle of the Bulge. They gathered at the 106th Infantry Division monument in the Klosterstrasse for a moment of solemn remembrance, honoring those who gave the ultimate sacrifice during WWII. Mayor Herbert Grommes was awarded the 2019 Flag of Friendship for his great effort and cooperation to create the POW monument and the special events that covered the remembrance of the Battle of the Bulge in and around the city of St. Vith. As a local from Schönberg he knows the importance of keeping the flame of remembrance alive. The attending WWII veterans were all invited to St. Vith city hall for a complimentary luncheon, during which they were offered to sign the city's Golden Book. A brass band gave a beautiful rendition of the anthems and taps, making this a very special event for the 75th anniversary.
At Rencheux the C-47 Club Ardennes Salm River Chapter honored veteran Herb Sheaner and an MIA from the 82nd Airborne Division, who gave his life during the fighting in Vielsalm. A dinner at the Auberge du Carrefour (Baraque de Fraiture) closed an amazing day of honoring the WWII veterans.
See you next year for the 76th.
WWII veteran Herbert Sheaner and his son Mike present the flowers at the new POW monument in Schönberg, which was inaugurated on 15 December 2019. (Photo Carl Wouters)
Flowers at the St. Vith Kriegerdenkmal at a ceremony marking the final liberation of the town on 23 January 1945 by units of the 7th Armored Division. (Photo Carl Wouters)
No snow like in 1945, but freezing temperatures (-7 °C) marked the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. Ice crystals on the St. Vith Kriegerdenkmal are proof of the cold weather. (Photo Carl Wouters)
EVEN THE WEATHER WAS LIKE 70 YEARS AGO - At the Memorial for American soldiers the destruction of St. Vith and the sacrifices of the Battle of the Bulge were commemorated. Twelve US WWII veterans came to East-Belgium for the ceremony.
The Flag of Friendship Ceremony takes place at the 106th Infantry Division Memorial in St. Vith, Belgium.
The memorial is located next to the Bischöfliche Schule St.Vith, located at the following address:
Klosterstraße 38, St.Vith (Belgium).
For directions see the map below. Free parking is available at the An der Linden traffic circle in the center of town, just a 10 minute walk from the monument.
The Belgian Chapter of the 106th Division Association is responsible for wreath layings and flower pieces that are presented at various ceremonies in Belgium and Germany, in honor of the men of the Division. These ceremonies include the Annual Flag of Friendship Ceremony, the Rencheux Bridge Ceremonies, Memorial Day at various US Military Cemeteries, the Wereth Eleven Commemoration, ...
Two other objectives of the Chapter are the creation of new monuments dedicated to the 106th and the replacement of tattered US and National flags that fly over these monuments throughout the year.
Your donations are most welcome and very much appreciated.