Freedom is not free and should never be taken for granted. You hear that a lot, but what does it mean? For Uncle Matty it meant giving his life so that others could be free. His story and the finding of his historic D-Day rifle has touched so many people, not only in the United States, but all over the world. Both the French and US Armies Chief of Staffs, General Bosser and General Milley were instrumental in bringing his M-1 Garand back home. They were honored and fascinated by his story. For my family and me it was symbolically Uncle Matty’s way of coming home. I am so thrilled Uncle Matty’s story is helping some many people.
I had no idea but there was a special person from Holland looking over Uncle Matty. She was not only interested in his story, but in honoring his memory. This special person along with her daughter adopted Uncle Matty’s grave in the American Cemetery in Normandy. They regularly place flowers on his grave. When Thulai visits a cemetery, she does not see headstones, she sees thousands of untold stories, stories that need to be told, stories we can learn from, stories that will remember the sacrifices. Thulai knows what sacrifice is all about. I am honored to proclaim Thulai is Uncle Matty’s Dutch Angel, and I want the world to know what an amazing person she is.
Thulai comes from a military family that have paid the price for freedom in WWII and today. She has always been fascinated by WWII and is passionate about honoring and remembering the brave soldiers killed in action during the war. Thulai’s great-grandfather was an Dutch Army infantry battalion commander in WWII. When the Germans invaded Holland he became the district commander of the biggest national resistance movement, the OD. The OD consisted of former Dutch Military personal. Unfortunately, he was betrayed and prosecuted by a German court with other members of the resistance. All were executed, Thulai’s great-grandfather was already sick and dying as was spared until he passed away. As a young teenager Thulai first read the Flanders Field poem. She credits it in inspiring her to honor our fallen heroes.
If ye break faith with us who die
We shall not sleep
Though poppies grow
In Flanders Field
Uncle Matty’s Dutch Angel feels her generation must hold that torch now. WWII veterans are leaving us every day and it is up to us to preserve the stories for future generations. Thulai and her daughter Lyahna (a true military child) tragically know the cost of freedom. Lyahna father, a Dutch Paratrooper was killed in an accident in 2011. They know how it feels to lose a love one and she sees the pain in Lyahna eyes every day. Thulai feels it is important for Lyahna and her generation to realize the sacrifices young men made in liberating Holland. It is touching that Lyahna is following in her Mom’s footsteps. She is passionate about learning and honoring the veterans who gave their life for freedom. Lyahna has the same humble and giving personality as her amazing Mom, and I know she wants to heal a part of the loss and pain of veteran families. Thulai and Lyahna make the cutest Mother/Daughter combination and are friends to veterans all over the world.
Thulai was touched by Uncle Matty and feels his is such an inspirational story. I can feel her passion in honoring his memory. She presented my book about Uncle Matty to an injured Dutch paratrooper who served with the 82 nd Airborne Division, in fact in the same 1 st Battalion, 508 th PIR, HQ Company that Uncle Matty served with. It made this soldier smile and feel better. For me it makes me happy Uncle Matty’s story is healing other souls. I now feel connected to this brave soldier. For our Dutch Angel Thulai, she was just doing what she does best, making people feel better.
For many American families that have loved ones who served in WWII it is frustrating not to know much about it. Even those that survived never talked about it much. Families sometimes only know that their love one served in WWII, nothing else. Thulai desires to find out information for them and give them some knowledge to better understand what their loved ones went through. The families feel so much better from learning and for some gives them closure on decades-old feelings. For all of them Thulai eases some of the pain they have felt for so long.
Nothing brings my Dutch Angel Thulai million-dollar smile to life like helping veterans and their families. She has a priceless smile, known by so many veterans and their families. She is a master researcher, knowing about unit’s location and movements during WWII. There is no better map reader than our Dutch Angel. Understanding maps is crucial in researching WWII. Maps lead to clues, information and answers. For me, Thulai has answered some of my questions about Uncle Matty’s brief time alive during the invasion of Normandy. Through her research I know more about the 82 nd Airborne Division and the 508 th PIR actions during WWII. I know Thulai’s unconditional devotion to veterans and witness first-hand her searching and finding precious items worn by paratroopers killed in action in Holland in the year 1944. Thulai spends days, weeks, months and sometimes years finding these “one of a kind” items and locating surviving family members with the goal of returning it to them. Thulai says “I have seen the face of war, and lost several dear friends in combat zones, it is an honor to play a part in preserving these personal belongings.” The feeling, the joy, the excitement of both the family members and Thulai cannot be measured.
Thulai and I are now great friends and vow to meet each other one day. She has touched my emotions by honoring my childhood hero Uncle Matty. From placing flowers on his grave to mailing me a beautiful grave rubbing from his headstone, to answering my questions she has been a true friend to me. I realize she is very special and I am blessed she came into my life. Not only is Thulai Uncle Matty’s Dutch Angel, she is also mine. My Dutch Angel does these angelic acts for many 82 nd Airborne Division families that lost loved ones during WWII.
Thulai created and gave me one of the greatest gifts in my life. While visiting Uncle Matty’s grave in Normandy she co-created a video honoring Uncle Matty and the brave 508 th PIR soldiers. The 3-minute video is very emotional and professionally done. Using a drone, she was able to capture realistic conditions of the sacred grounds in Normandy. Views of the 508 th PIR drop zones, command post, mission objectives and Uncle Matty’s grave tell a unique story of Private Martin Teahan, a kid from the rough streets of the poor Irish South Bronx. The video is so amazing I cannot give it justice in describing it. I highly recommend viewing it on Uncle Matty Comes Home YouTube page.
I believe you will be just as touched as I was, and see why Tulai is Uncle Matty’s Dutch Angel. Thulai, you are the best! I look forward to our friendship and getting to meet my Dutch Angel