Toward the end of WWII in
1945, an American pilot, Lt. Gerald McDonell. of
the US 355th Fighter Group, was shot down,
crashed, and perished in the ancient town of
Buren in central Holland. The Dutch townspeople
considered his death a symbol of their freedom.
After the defeat of Nazi Germany,
a Dutch horticulturalist, Mr. Van den Berg,
cultivated a special tulip in memory of Gerry. In
1981 this tulip was recorded by the International
Committee for the Registration of Tulip names as
the "Gerry McDonell" tulip.
In May, 2000, during a 355th
Reunion in Holland, Carol Lyons, artist and wife
of William Lyons, former fiighter pilot with the
355th Group, saw the tulips and decided to paint
a watercolor of them.
In June, 2001, the "Lt.
Gerry McDonell Tulip Painting" was
officially presented to the Town of Buren by two
WWII Dutch Resistance fighters, Albert Postma and
Fred Boogaart. It was received at the
ceremony by Buren's Burgomaster, Drs. K.C. Tammes
and Secretary L.H. Soetekouw. Remarks were
made by the Burgomaster, by Dutch Priest Drs.G.
Thuring, noted historical researcher of downed
flyers in WWII, and by Albert Postma, longtime
Netherlands contact for the 8th Air force and the
355th Fighter Group.
The Tulip painting is unusual in
that, under the image, the flags of the
Netherlands, United States and Great Britain are
shown, signifying the unity of these three allies
in WWII and their liberation of Holland from Nazi
Germany. The painted inscription reads:
"In memory...Lt. Gerry McDonell
In Honor ... The Dutch Resistance
In Unity... Our Three
Nations--World War II"
A picture of the painting appears
on the cover of the Spring 2002 MUSTANG