Second Lieutenant Donald W Ridenour

Name Donald W Ridenour
Rank Second Lieutenant
Army Serial # O-2005503
State Michigan
Date of death 1945-03-02
Plot, Row, Grave C, 3, 24
Cemetery Netherlands American Cemetery, Margraten, Netherlands, Google Maps
Unit 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division
Awards Purple Heart
Remarks Linda Gisel provided me with two pictures of Donald. One picture with his buddy Bill Burk can be seen here. Linda also provided a story on how Donalds grave was adopted.

As related to Linda Worrall-Gisel by her mother, Marie deBruijn-Worall: `Since we are coming this far to care for this grave (Van Neste) why not take care of another?' was part of the conversation between Mom and her sister (José) at Margraten Cemetery. So Mom walked back one row back and over 13 graves. This randomly selected soldier’s grave would become know to us, my brother and sister and me as `Uncle Don’s' grave. His mother we would eventually call `Grandma' (Ridenour).

The adopted graves were visited weekly and decorated with flowers. Prayers were said at the Sunday Masses held at the cemetery for the American dead, and pictures were taken to forward to their `next of kin' through the War Department. Mom received word that the pictures and her home address had been forwarded to Don's widow (Terry) in December 1945 `for whatever action she may desire to take'. Letters between the families followed culminating in an invitation being extended to and accepted by Mom to come to the US to visit. In October 1947 Mom sailed for New York on the TSS Nieuw Amsterdam on its first post-war voyage. Carrying 1256 passengers it arrived in New York harbor November 6, 1947. (The ship had made 17 round-trip crossings as a troop carrier during the war and had been completely and lavishly reconditioned.)

Mom was met by Don’s widow (Terry) and Don’s buddy Bill’s wife (Betty Burke). Together they enjoyed the abundance of the NYC sights and availability of food. Mom tells that one morning she could not be found by the others, only eventually to be discovered locked in the bathroom eating an entire bunch of bananas! Fresh fruit was a great treat after experiencing such a shortage of food in Holland!

They all traveled to Don’s parents' home in Michigan. The `family because so attached to [her-Mom] that they decided to make an attempt to ‘adopt’ her as a member of their family.' `After a 6-month extension and another 1-month grant, obtained with some difficultly,' friends contacted Michigan Senator (Homer Ferguson). He arranged an extension until May 1, 1949. He planned legislation for introduction on the senate floor that would allow her `to become an American citizen' as the Dutch immigration quota was oversubscribed. The Senate passed the measure (bill 1637), where it then went to the House, where it also passed. She was fully recognized as having immigrant status with the signing of the bill by Pres. Harry S. Truman and thereafter became an American citizen.

So the 1st adopted grave (VanNeste) became two (Ridenour) adopted graves, and then there were four (Jaegel and Sierks). The four became eight as more soldier buddies and family acquaintances were killed in action for the liberation of Holland and the final defeat of the Nazis.
Grave Soldier
Donald W Ridenour (O-2005503) Donald W Ridenour (O-2005503)

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