American Legion Marys River Post 100 in collaboration with the city of Philomath invites the community to a virtual Veterans Day event at 6 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 10. The event will feature an evening with Vincent Speranza, who served as a machine gunner while assigned to the 101st Airborne Division in Bastogne, Belgium, during the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944.
Speranza, who is 96, authored the book, “Nuts,” which tells the story of his service in World War II. He will share remembrances of his actions in the war, including how he provided aid and comfort to wounded GIs with a helmet full of Belgium beer — an act that helped him become a legend across Europe.
Speranza’s life story includes growing up in Staten Island to become a paratrooper, defending Bastogne, liberating the Dachau Concentration Camp and eventually capturing Hitler’s Eagles Nest in Berchtesgaden.
Speranza’s participation in the Battle of the Bulge coincides with the service of Corp. Albert Vandersee, who graduated from Philomath High School in 1939 and was also assigned to the 101st Airborne Division. Vandersee and Speranza were in different companies. On Christmas Day 1944 in Bastogne, Vandersee was killed in action.
Another Philomath connection can be found with Sgt. Fran Gerding, a local resident who just recently celebrated his 100th birthday. Gerding served in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army, which pushed north to rescue the encircled 101st from annihilation.
Speranza will participate in the presentation via Zoom from his home in Springfield, Illinois. The event will be available to the public on the city’s Facebook page at this link.
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