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Retired Marine Col. Barry Colassard, a docent at the National Museum of the Marine Corps, presents sand from Iwo Jima and shows pictures of Mount Suribachi to Duke Leopold-Engelbert de Arenberg, center, and Count Bernard de Grunne of Belgium. Arenberg supports Azalea Charities, a veteran and community support organization based in Dumfries, and toured the museum April 15.

Photo by Eve A. Baker

Belgian duke provides support to wounded US warriors, visits Marine Corps Museum

23 Apr 2015 | Eve A. Baker Marine Corps Base Quantico

This story begins 70 years ago this month in the Dachau concentration camp. Princess Sophie Marie Therese of Bavaria was imprisoned in the infamous camp along with her mother and siblings. When the camp was liberated by American soldiers in April 1945, a young Army lieutenant named Albert Metts Jr., provided assistance to the princess, a service that made a great impression on her son, Duke Leopold-Engelbert de Arenberg.

Decades later, Arenberg was able to track down Metts through the internet and thank him personally for his service.

In the wake of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, with the vast number of American service members coming home with injuries, Arenberg said he wanted to do something specific to show his gratitude for the assistance given to his family so long ago and to assist those who are helping protect his countrymen today. He began by providing financial support to Azalea Charities of Dumfries.

On April 15, Arenberg visited the National Museum of the Marine Corps along with a friend and fellow philanthropist Count Bernard de Grunne of Belgium; Frank Lasch Sr., chairman of Azalea Charities; and Kim Munoz, from the Quality of Life Foundation in Woodbridge. Arenberg said he visits the United States regularly to meet with veterans and the charities he supports, and on this trip he brought a Belgian film crew to cover portions of his visit.

Arenberg wants to let Europeans see the extent of the injuries that American service members have received overseas and what life is like for their caregivers. He also wants to encourage European leaders to increase their support for NATO and take some of the burden off the United States, which funds a large majority of NATO’s budget.

Meeting with Arenberg at the museum were former Army Sgt. Brian Pearce and his wife Angie, along with Pearce’s assistance dog and another dog in training. Pearce was riding in a HMMWV in Iraq in 2006 that was struck by an improvised explosive device. Pearce was severely wounded and required years of treatment and rehabilitation, according to a article. Angie provides care for her husband and works for the Quality of Life Foundation, which Arenberg supports through his contributions to Azalea Charities.

Arenberg hopes to marshal additional European and American support for wounded warriors and their caregivers and said “as long as they need me, I will continue to provide help.”

— Writer:

Marine Corps Base Quantico