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Author to Discuss Belgians’ Heroism During World War II

Belgian Heritage Center Hosts Shot Down Author June 4

An inspirational story discussed in an upcoming program should serve as a source of pride for the Belgian community and history buffs in southern Door County, Belgian Heritage Center volunteer Gary Chaudoir said.

Chaudoir heard Steve Snyder speak about his father, Howard Snyder, and the crew of the B-17 Susan Ruth twice at an Oshkosh air show. He was surprised when Snyder accepted his invitation to speak at the Belgian Heritage Center about his award-winning book, Shot Down. He will do so at 6:30 pm on June 4.

Chaudoir said the book covers how the people of southern Belgium took risks to shelter and conceal Howard Snyder and B-17 crew members after their plane was shot down. The author conveys his pride for the people of southern Belgium as he provides an in-depth picture of what members of the Belgian underground did to get the crew out of the war zone, according to Chaudoir.

Howard Snyder, Steve Snyder wrote, was the last to bail out of the plane. Members of the Belgian and French resistance helped him out of his parachute and down from some trees, then moved him from place to place until he finally was safe in Spain.

In addition to discussing the book and his father, Snyder gives a PowerPoint presentation on how he researched the book.

“He said this is a perfect group for him to speak to, and he would find a way to do it,” Chaudoir said of his conversations with Snyder, who is traveling out of his way to visit Brussels and Namur, an unincorporated community with rich Belgian heritage within the Town of Union.

Southern Door County and other points nearby have dense populations of people with southern Belgian Wallonian roots, Chaudoir said. 

One of the Belgian Heritage Center’s leaders and founders, Theresa Alexander, has led several trips to Belgium, including trips to Namur, Bastogne and the Ardennes Forest, the site of the Battle of the Bulge. She said the far-southern sites where people helped Howard Snyder during World War II would be good to visit on subsequent trips.

The Namur, Brussels and Luxemburg of northeast Wisconsin, Chaudoir noted, were home to several Belgians who served in World War II. That includes Corporal Charles Marcelle, who participated in the D-day invasion and died in a German war prison in 1945.

More events:

Other upcoming events at the Belgian Heritage Center include the Belgian waffle breakfast on June 30; Belgian Days bus tours on July 13; Belgian Kermiss on Aug. 18; and the Great Fire Remembrance on Oct. 5. Learn more at belgianheritagecenter.org.

The Belgian Heritage Center is located at 1255 Cty DK in Brussels.

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