For several years now on Memorial Day, I post photos of my dad, Ronald A. Myers. He was killed in action while fighting in Czechoslovakia on May 6, 1945...just two days before German forces surrendered to the Allied Forces on May 8th. Unfortunately, I don’t remember my father as I wouldn’t have my 3rd birthday until another 2 ½ months after his death.
I have just a handful of photos of my dad after the time I was born, a couple just with me, a couple with me with both my mom and dad and 2 or 3 of my dad in uniform or in street clothes. So, I was somewhat stunned when I received an email that included the following photo!
It is an official military photo showing my dad. It is titled “S/Sgt. Ronald A. Myers advances down a road towards the German town of Riefensbeek”. The photo is dated 14 April, 1945, just 22 days before he was killed and just 12 days after his 34th birthday.
I received the photo from a dedicated amateur historian named David Foud, who lives in the city of Pilsen, in what is now the Czech Republic. He was seeking more information for his WWII commemoration project.
Can you guess what day of what month I received this email and memorable photo. It was on May 6, 2021, exactly 76 years to the day when my dad made the final sacrifice!
From David Foud’s email I also learned that my dad may have been killed near Tesov Czechoslovakia. Further research is pending. S/Sgt. Myers was part of the 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division (Big Red Division), of the US Army. The family story I’d been told was that my dad had been put in charge of his company or unit after his Lieutenant had been killed. Looking at some of the information included as part of David Foud’s efforts and website, I discovered that the day before my dad was killed, 7 others in the unit had also died and one of them was a Lieutenant.
To commemorate the others in his unit who were KIA a day earlier, here is a list of their names and ranks:
· 1st Lt. Joseph L. Droz
· Sgt. Wallace H. Gaucher Jr.
· T/S Gerard T. Hughes
· Pfc. Elza Mosher
· Pvt. Bruno C. Pioterek
· Sgt. William W. Smith
· Pfc. William A. Spain Jr.
What I discovered through my contact with David Foud was that the city of Pilsen holds a major celebration every year commemorating the liberation of Czechoslovakia by allied troops in May of 1945. On May 6, 1945, American soldiers arrived in Pilsen and it became the furthest place in Eastern Europe that was reached and liberated by American and Allied troops. Under Soviet influence and subsequent repressive governments, the memory of fighting or dead Americans were forgotten or even disparaged. Any official celebration marking the arrival of the US Army in Pilsen was unthinkable before 1989 and the so called “Velvet Revolution” in Czechoslovakia.
Beginning in May of 1990, Pilsen has held a Liberation Festival in honor of the US Army, its soldiers and airmen. People from around the world come to celebrate. Military veterans, their families and of course townspeople have all been involved. I’ve reviewed photos and videos of this annual commemoration and it is a big event! To learn more, just go to https://www.slavnostisvobody.cz/en/online-studio-2020/.
David Foud also has a website dedicated to the American liberation of Pilsen. His site includes a list of those Americans who gave their lives in this effort… Many Army Divisions, Regiments, members of the Air Corp and others are included in this long list. It could be a valuable resource for those seeking information about family members. Just go to David’s site at Monumenty neznámých (mnofu.com) for more information.
Many thanks for the appreciation shown by the City of Pilsen and specifically David Foud for the efforts to remember and commemorate the sacrifice of American troops in Czechoslovakia at the end of World War II.
We owe so much to the many Americans who have sacrificed their lives for our freedom and our way of life. God Bless America...
Thanks for stopping by for visit…
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave