In 1971, after I had finished high school, completed my Military Officers’ School, served in the Army, tried - and failed - to study at the TH in Eindhoven, worked for an American Cosmetics Company in Holland, and finally joined ABN Bank, was trained in International Banking, and became a Banker, ABN sent me abroad to Argentina as an Expatriate.
There, one day in
I was astonished. A complete stranger on the other side of the planet asks about my Dad...
“Yes”, I said, “that’s my Dad!”
Now it was his time to be astonished with the coincidence and he explained why: “Bodo Sandberg was one in a group of five fighter pilots who managed to escape from occupied
"Bodo Sandberg is very special to us because, when he came back from America, he not only brought a package of American “goodies” back for his own wife and son, he also brought such a fabulous package - personally - to our home, for my mother, my younger brother and me.. Bodo tried to fill the void of his fallen friend, my father...."
My Mom and I admire "Uncle Bodo" for the true Officer and gentleman he is”.
Unbelievable, 26 years later, 18,000 Km away from
It goes without saying that Rolf and I became very good friends, just like our Dads were.
And it became even more amazing
The peculiar thing about my encounter with Rolf was that I cannot recall he ever mentioned where or when his Dad was killed. It wasn’t until years later that my wife, while she was out on a business trip for
Her largest client, in the Agri Business Rabobank specializes in, was the largest egg producing company in
My wife was of course impressed by, and sad for the fallen pilots, but at first she didn’t connect with what she had just seen and learned.
When she came home with that story, I called my Dad in
And Dad came back: “Yes, during the war the
“I also know that cemetery very well....” And, after a long moment of deep reflection and sadness, Dad whispered in tears: “that is where we burried F.A.A.M. Janssens”....
Paid my last respects
In 2008, when I was out on a business trip, and had to travel from
I also searched for - and, in the end, managed to find - Cedar Lawn Cemetery, where I stood still for a full minute in silence, just like we did with Dad on the dunes on the 4th of May every year on the Dutch National day of mourning, to honor our fallen Heroes, and I paid my last respects to Rolf Janssens’ Dad, Faam, who rests there in peace after he paid the ultimate price for the freedom and peace all of us still - and so much - enjoy today.
I could almost feel that my late Dad and his friend Faam were there with me during that deeply emotional minute in the sunset.
Written: May 2009
By: Jhr. Job B. B. Sandberg, son of Jhr. Bodo Sandberg
With input from Jhr. Steven W.H. Sandberg, son of Jhr. Bodo Sandberg
The help of, and gracious editing by Rolf F. Janssens, son of F.A.A.M. Janssens
Pieter Hans Hoets, himself an "Engeland Vaarder". Hoets was knighted at 26 by Queen Wilhelmina for his brazen bravery as a member of the Dutch Resistance during World War II. Those activities - filled with escapes and espionage - are recounted in his book "Vrijgevaren". He also wrote "Englandspiel ontmaskerd", "Spookspoor naar Moskou", and "De Yale Connection".
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