Haverhill’s John Katsaros is one of an elite group of 17 World War II veterans traveling tomorrow night to France, Luxembourg and Belgium to commemorate the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge.
Katsaros’ book, “Code Burgundy—The Long Escape,” tells his story of how he was captured after his plane was shot down. He told WHAV, he first believed he was taken by the German Gestapo, but it turns out he was captured by members of the French resistance who didn’t believe at first he was American. The reason—Americans’ colloquial speech sounds like German.
“Every time they said something and I answered a yes, I’d say ‘ya.’ They thought I was German because of that reason,” he says.
Boston’s Wounded Vet Run raised money for the trip and the veterans will be escorted by a contingency of officers from the Boston, Winthrop and Malden police departments and the MBTA Transit Police Department. They will meet with King Philippe of Belgium and visit the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial and the Bastogne War Museum. While Katsaros says he has made more than 20 similar trips—participating in events in France, Belgium, Germany, England and Austria—he is looking forward to his first visit to Bastogne. He says he understands his solemn duty.
“My wife says, ‘Gee, that sounds like a good vacation.’ I said it is not a vacation. It’s an obligation,” Katsaros says.
There will be a sendoff at Logan Airport with Veterans Services Secretary Fransico Urena, Andrew Biggio of Boston’s Wounded Vet Run, Todd Smith and Kenn Turner from Massport.