Grove City Mayor Ike Stage will travel this month to the Netherlands to participate in the dedication of a memorial for four members of an American B-17 crew who died June 22, 1943, when their plane was shot down during World War II.
One of the airmen who perished was Ernest Trickett, a member of Grove City High School's class of 1935.
The Grove City Library and the city have been assisting Menno Polderman in finding out more about Trickett.
Polderman, who lives in Heinkenszand in the Dutch province of Zeeland, has spent nearly two years in planning the memorial to the Americans whose plane crashed about a mile from his grandfather's house near the Netherlands city of Goes.
Stage is making the trip at his own expense.
"It's truly an honor to be able to be part of this ceremony," Stage said. "I'm a World War II buff. Even if I wasn't the mayor of Grove City, if I had the opportunity to attend this event, I'd be going anyway."
The dedication ceremony is scheduled for 10:45 a.m. June 22.
"That is the day and about the time the plane crashed 74 years ago," Polderman said via email.
Family members of the crewmen plan to attend the ceremony, he said.
"It will be an official ceremony. When the family members of the crewmen arrive, there will be 29 schoolchildren waving small American flags," Polderman said. "The Dutch Army Band will play the Dutch and American anthems and the Last Post bugle call.
"Four schoolchildren will speak the names of the crewmen who were killed in action and two will recite a poem they wrote in English," he said.
Col. Scott Fisher, the military attache of the U.S. Air Force in the Netherlands, is scheduled to attend with his wife, Polderman said.
The ceremony will include a fly-over with an American Piper Cub plane and a B-25 bomber, both of World War II vintage, he said.
"It means the world to me that family members of the crewmen will come over to the Netherlands to attend the ceremony," Polderman said. "It feels like they are my family. It's an honor that I'm able to make this happen."
Results of research
Trickett was based out of Boise, Idaho, as a member of the 384th Bomb Group, 545th Squadron, serving as engineer and top turret gunner.
The mission on the morning of June 22, 1943, was the first for the crew an tragically, its last.
According to Polderman's research, the crew was flying in a repaired plane because their regular plane had sustained accidental damage to its trail section.
The crew's plane fell out of formation, losing speed because of the failure of turbochargers on the engines.
Shortly after the plane dropped its bombs on the target -- vehicle plants in Antwerp, Belgium -- it was attacked by eight German fighters.
The bomber flew over Goes with three or four motors on fire, according to Polderman's research. An explosion occurred and the plane broke in two and crashed.
German planes shot at the Americans as they parachuted from the plane, killing four, including Trickett. The other six crewmen were taken prisoner.
"It was important to undertake this project because this story must be kept alive for the next generations, so these heroes will not be forgotten," Polderman said. "My generation did hear the stories from the people who experienced World War II firsthand. My children didn't, so that's why it's important to save these stories."
"As the decades pass, it's so easy to move on and forget what happened during World War II," Stage said. "Any time we have an opportunity to remember and pay our respects, it's an honor."
Polderman should be commended for his dedication and effort to make sure the airmen who died are not forgotten, he said.
"He (Polderman) has really put in the effort to make this dedication ceremony into something special," Stage said.
Following the ceremony, Stage and other participants will visit the graves of Trickett and his comrades in Belgium.
"This project has meant a lot to me," Polderman said. "It's been two years of hard work to get this all done. In my mind, I was always thinking about the crewmen, the plane, their mission, the crash. I just couldn't let it go."
Polderman said Christina Edwards, a research assistant at the Grove City Library, has been of great help to him, helping to find out more information about Trickett and assisting him in finding family members for two of the crewmen.
The library was first contacted by Polderman in September 2015, when he asked for any help or information it could provide.
"It's been an amazing experience," Edwards said.
"Piecing together details about Ernest Trickett and his life has made him more than just a name from a long-past war. He's become a real person to me," Edwards said.
Locating family links
Most fortunate was that the library was able to find two relatives of Trickett's living in central Ohio, Edwards said.
Brian Randall, Trickett's great-nephew, lives on the West Side of Columbus. His family had possession of Trickett's Purple Heart, Airman's Medal and flag and those items are now on display at the Grove City Welcome Center and Museum.
Another relative was found by accident.
Grove City resident Nelson Trickett has a bloodline that crosses with Ernest Trickett through a common ancestor.
MIchael Trickett (1783-1840-50?) had two sons, Rawley (1817-1898) and Michael Edmond (1828-1864), Edwards said.
"Michael Edmund is Nelson's relative and Rawley is Ernest's," she said. "Michael Edmond is buried at Camp Chase on Sullivant Avenue in Columbus."
"I had never heard anything about Ernest Trickett," Nelson Trickett said.
Trickett, 77, visited the Grove City Library last month with his wife, Donna, who is a member of the Grove City Writer's Club.
"She had come to the library just to drop off three of her books," Edwards said. "I noticed the name, 'Trickett' and asked if by any chance they were related to Ernest Trickett."
"I said 'not to my knowledge,' and Christina asked if she could do an ancestry search, and she was able to find the connection between Ernest Trickett and myself," Nelson Trickett said.
"It's been really interesting to find that connection," he said. "Any time you find out you have a connection to someone who was a war hero, it's interesting."
Nelson Trickett served from 1958-62 with the U.S. Navy as a radio operator on a seaplane and later served 28 years as an airline pilot before retiring in 1994.