Remagen Bridge Reenactment 2013

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Here is a report on the event at Tidioute, PA this past weekend, by our correspondent, Bill Donegan:

Do you know what God did this year at the Tideoute event?

First I have to set this up for you. Mr. Ken Hechler used to be Secretary of State for West Virginia. He was a member of Congress under President Truman. During WW2 he was drafted into the army as a private, then was commissioned as a lieutenant in the armored force, and eventually promoted to Major . He had five battle stars and a bronze star. He was in charge of research at the White House under president Harry Truman. My uncle Lester Call, US Army, 82nd AB, 325 GIR, gave me a first edition of “The Bridge at Remagen” in 1957. That book got me interested in WW2. I met Mr. Hechler in the 1990s when I was a Private Detective (his office was in charge of licensing). Each year around October I had to renew my Detective license. Instead of mailing in the renewal , I always walked my paperwork through the Secretary of State’s office. Mr. Hechler used to sit outside his office in a secretary’s chair wearing jeans and a plaid shirt instead of the customary suit and tie. He always gave me an apple when I visited with him. Ken and I used to talk each time I went in while my paper work was being processed. He knew I was interested in WW2 so he used to tell me war stories. He was at Remagen on March 7, 1945 when the bridge was captured. After the war he returned to Remagen several times to interview people who’d been there, and subsequently has written several books about the incident. He was also in Chechoslavakia when the movie was filmed. OK that’s the set-up. Now what did God do this year?

This year is the third time I have participated in the Tideoute event. After the first one I had contacted Ken Hechler’s home in Charleston to tell him about it. I offered to drive him to the event if he would come. I advised that the people would love to have him and that he could even sell some books. Well Ken was born in 1914 so that means he is 99 years old. I did not really think he would ever make it. I heard nothing further from him until last Friday when we arrived at registration. He was seated at the table next to registration with a table full of books for sale. I spoke to him briefly and he reminded everyone that I was always his “favorite Private Detective”. I was blessed to have been used by God to invite this dear sweet man to come to this reenactment. He not only did a book signing but he spoke just before the bridge battle. God bless you Ken and the State of West Virginia!

Bill Donegan

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2 responses to “Remagen Bridge Reenactment 2013”

  1. Charles Gutierrez Avatar
    Charles Gutierrez

    The article was a report on Ken and Bill Donegan but not about the event! I was at the event and was surprised about how little information there was about the actual battle for the Remagen Bridge. I was a vendor at the event and asked many people who stopped by my tables if they knew the unit that captured the bridge and anything about the battle itself and very few knew anything about it. One person was surprised that the re-enactment was based on an actual battle. More needs to be done at future events to be a historically informative affair as much as an entertainment affair.

    BTW: My name is Charles Gutierrez. My father was Pablo Gutierrez. During the war he was in 1st Platoon, Company A, 27th AIB of the 9th Armored Division. He was wounded at St. Vith during the Battle of the Bulge and helped capture the Bridge at Remagen on 03/07/1945.

  2. Pat Tarasovitch Avatar

    We like to thank you for the support of the Bridge at Remagen event in Tidioute ,PA.Thank you for your comments. Over the past years we have handed out the history of the battle to spectators in phamplets. We ran out this year. The size of Tidioute is the same size as Remagen Germany. As to the attack on the town itself as the 9th Armored advanced into the town. For the bridge battle we portray the 9th Armored. We are working on more ideas for 2014. Yes we are back!! Registraion will open in Januray 2014.

    Pat Tarasovitch, Event Coordinator, Erie ,PA

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