Eitreim, Irid Alton “Ike”

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Eitreim, Irid Alton “Ike”, a personal friend, born 14-04-1922 Rock County, Minnasota, was a corporal and gunner of the 101st Airborne Division, 907th Glider Field Artillery Company and with Norwegian roots. He was the son of a from Norwegian immigrated couple and proud to be a Viking. He and his wife Caryl joined several associations with other Norwegian people. He and his brothers were all their life farmers and Irid volunteered in the Army with the outbreak of World War II. Ike became the gunner of the 101st Airborne Division , 907th Glider Field Artillery Company  under command of Lieutenant Colonel Clarence F Nelson   and participated in all the big battles, from D-Day, Normandy, Market Garden and the Ardennes Offensive or Battle of the Bulge, to Berchtesgaden . Ike’s friend was Sergeant Charles W Hogan 907th GFAB Battery B
The Battalion’s second operation was Market Garden. The 907th Glider Field Artillery Battalion took off from England on the September 19th (D plus 2). Unfortunately, only 24 men of a 550-man battalion made it safely to the landing zone at Zon, near my hometown of Eindhoven. They were scattered all over Holland, Belgium and France and whole flights of them had returned to England. Fog had been the major problem. The 907th Glider Field Artillery Battalion, who had landed the day before with their gliders, came to support the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, nickname “Geronimo”  with Colonel Howard Ravenscord Johnson  “Jumpie” as the first commander of the 501st PIR in Eerde with their 105 mm howitzers. They were just in time, because on that very day the Germans attacked the corridor on several places. The adaptability of airborne men was well illustrated by the experience of the 907th that afternoon and night.
The casualties of the 101 Airborne Division during their campaign in Europe; In Normandy, killed/died of wounds 868, wounded in action 2.303, missing/captured 665. In Holland killed 752, wounded 2.151 and missing 398. In the battle of the Bulge in Belgium, killed 482, wounded 2.449 and missing 527, in total killed 2.043, wounded 2.782 and missed 1590. Irid Eitreim was also in the neighborhood of Malmedy, during the Ardenne Offensive and the massacre in December 1944, more than 100 American prisoners were killed by the Forces of SS Standartenführer, Kommandeur SS Panzer Reg 1 “LSSAH” , Joachim “Jochen” Peiper.
 Until the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Holland, in 1994, Irid never spoke about his war events with his sons Jeffrey and Greg. In 1994 for the 50 anniversary of our liberation, Irid and his wife Carol, and all living 101 warriors, were invited by our Eindhoven 101 Airborne Association, for this great event (see About). But after the big celebrations and recognition’s of his war history, Ike couldn’t stop telling about his war events, told his son Jeff. Corporal Irid Eitreim always had bad feelings about the war, maybe after the Malmedy massacre, the Americans didn’t take prisoners anymore, temporary?. He found out that the Dutch people still valued his efforts during World War II and felt much better after his visit to Holland, with about 100 other veterans, they all wear orange caps and marched proudly on the town hall square. The respect they got from the Dutch youth and older people, brought them tears every evening. He would never been the same man as his oldest son Jeffrey told us during our visit to their home, in North Dakota. Irid showed his showcase with, till then hidden, decorations, hanged up proud on the wall. During a visit to Souix City Ike introduced us to father Francis Leon Sampson the famous 101 Airborne para priest, who fell in the river Douvre on D-Day. He also brought back home Frederick “Fritz” Niland  “Private Ryan”. Father Sampson gave me his signed biography, “Look out below”, during a lunch.  During the Operation Market Garden Father Sam felt in the moat of the castle in Heeswijk Dinther where his company  was dropped. Father Sampson died three months later on 16-01-1996, of stomach cancer, a special kind man.
    Mrs Burns, 101 AB Bob Burns, Rob, Father Sampson, Erid Eitreim.

Death and burial ground of Eitreim, Irid Alton “Ike”.

Irid Eitreim “Ike” lived on his farm until he died of lung cancer, at the age of 79, on 09-11-2001, shortly after the attack on the Twin Towers, 10-09-2001. His sons Jeffrey and Greg surprised me with his WWII 101 AB cap and a display with his decorations.. Corporal Irid and Caryl Eitreim, we really love them, are buried on the cemetery Palisade Luthern Church in Rock County, Minnasota. His son Jeffrey was so kind to sent me the war and grave pictures.
  
    

 

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