487th Bomb Group (H)
Station 137 - Lavenham, Suffolk, UK
22-Sep-43 to 7-Nov-45

Re-dedication of the 487th Memorial Plaque
In Lavenham Village Square

Comments delivered by Gregory N Matz son of Neil F (deceased) and Eleanor Matz 01-May-2005 Lavenham, Suffolk, England on the occasion of the re-dedication of the 487th Memorial Plaque located in the Lavenham village square during the 487th (H) Bomb Group 60th Anniversary V-E Tour, England/Belgium 29-Apr to 08-May-2005

Father Richard, Members of Council, People of Lavenham, my name is Gregory Matz and I am part of a group of veterans spouses children and grandchildren of the 487th Bomb Group visiting to commemorate the 60th anniversary of Victory in Europe Day.

Over two generations ago, a friendly invasion began in the small village of Lavenham. An invasion of young American boys many of them no older than my own son is some of them here today. Eventually that number would grow to well over 3000 young boys who came to and called Lavenham home at least for awhile. Unfortunately, too many of them never left the continent and today still sleep in Europe and in England.

You know I am of Italian and Slovak heritage. The child of immigrant forebearers who went to America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries looking to better their lives. And yet I feel as an American today and I have always felt this way I feel a greater affinity and love - for the English than I do for anybody else including the Slovaks and the Italians.

After all, it was the English that gave birth to America somewhat reluctantly but birth none the less. Its is, I suppose, shared language although your English language sounds so much more refined than our English language shared values and shared beliefs that bind us together. But more than those it is a shared kinship a brotherly relationship that binds and keeps us together. Roosevelt and Churchill Thatcher and Reagan Bush and Blair the 487th Bomb Group and Lavenham.

Except for that bloody little disturbance with the colonies our war for independence and a brief spat in 1812 when you tried to get us back when one of us was in trouble and needed help the other was there side by side just like family just like brothers.

And so it was in 1943 that young boys from all over America converged on and began to call Lavenham home. After a grueling and wickedly frightening 6 to 10 or 12 hour round trip to fortress Europe Lavenham was a warm and welcome home.

And so it was in 1943 that the were over paid, over-sexed and over here Lavenham took these boys into their hearts and made them their own. In fact, I have several friends women back in the states that left their native England 60 years ago and returned to America with their young GI or their young flyboy. And now having spent a couple of days here I can certainly see why these young boys found these young English women so attractive.

This week as the world remembers the 60th anniversary of the victory in Europe the end of the second world war in Europe the great victory of freedom over fascism we must vow to learn from history so as not to repeat history. For I am a great believer in the fact that if we don't learn from history we are bound to repeat history.

But now more importantly than ever as that generation passes we must vow to pass on to our children and our childrens-children that verbal history those stories those memories. Make your grand-children know make your nieces and nephews know make the neighbors children know tell them what it was like tell them what you did tell what your parents did don't assume that they'll learn it in school they won't especially not like they can learn it from you.

So, as we gather to re-commemorate to re-affirm and to re-dedicate this memorial to the men of the 487th Bomb Group on behalf of my late father Neil F. Matz 836th Bomb Squadron, 487th Bomb Group (H), Third Air Wing, 8th United States Army Air Force and all of the men living and dead of the 487th I'd like to take this opportunity to re-affirm the gratitude of the younger generations of those American boys to the people of the village of Lavenham who so lovingly took them in and made them their own the gratitude and thanks for your hospitality 60 years ago and your hospitality today to the people of Lavenham Thank You to the men of the 487th Bomb Group may you fly forever Thank You.

[Back to 487th Stories]