58 years later, memories of a war hero remain

News Northtowns Bureau

One of Grand Island's most famous citizens will be honored Sunday, 58 years to the day after he was killed while battling German troops in the Normandy region of France.

Residents will observe Pfc. Charles N. DeGlopper Remembrance Day as members of the Veterans of Foreign Wars post named in his honor lay a new headstone at his grave to mark his Congressional Medal of Honor, the highest award bestowed on any member of the U.S. military.

"He is our local hero," said Joe Synakowski, a member of the DeGlopper Veterans of Foreign Wars post and the event organizer.

"He's the only Medal of Honor recipient on the island. He went through the (D-Day) invasion and was killed on June 9. With this being the sesquicentennial year of Grand Island, we are trying to stress any of the historical events on Grand Island," Synakowski said. "This is very historic."

A 1 p.m. Sunday gravesite dedication of the new headstone and a memorial service at Maple Grove Cemetery on Stony Point Road will be included in a three-day weekend display of DeGlopper's war medals and military memorabilia of the 82nd Airborne Division Association at Old Trinity Church on Whitehaven Road .

The new headstone, listing DeGlopper as a recipient of the Congressional Medal of Honor, was donated by the local VFW with permission from his family.

DeGlopper entered the Army in 1942 and served in the 82nd Airborne Division, which sent glider loads of troops to crash inland from the beaches of France to secure major bridgeheads the night before the D-Day invasion.

He died in an exchange of gunfire with German troops on June 9, 1944, while advancing his platoon to secure an important German-held bridgehead across the Merderet River at La Fiere, France.

The weekend military display, which will include DeGlopper's Congressional Medal of Honor, runs from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Friday through Sunday. The public is invited to participate in all of the weekend events.