Memorial Roy L. Booher

Locatie: Onderschey 3-1, 6255 NM Noorbeek     50°46'29.9"N 5°49'32.5"E

This memorial was placed in September 2009 to honor Roy L. Booher who was killed near this spot. He was the first American soldier killed during the liberation of the Netherlands on September 12, 1944

Buried in Henri Chappelle Plot E Row 15 Grave 76


In September 1944, the allied troops were ready to cross the border into the southernmost part of the Netherlands. Liberating the ‚Heuvelland‘, the rugged landscape in the very south of Limburg, was assigned to the US 30th infantry division ‚Old Hickory‘, named after US president Andrew Jackson, one of the most combative presidents the US had ever known.

To the east of Old Hickory was the 113th cavalery division ‘Red Horse’, the Belgian towns west of the river Meuse had been liberated two days before by British forces. A thing about southern Limburg many men of the 30th still remembered years later, were the many hedgerows, filling them with the same uncomfortable feeling as in the Normandy bocages.


Among the first troops to enter Limburg, were the Booher twins, Roy L. and Ray G.


The life of Roy L. Booher began on 21 September in a small town in in Burkesville Kentucky. On the same day, his twin brother Ray was also born

Ray and Roy Booher, twin sons of Jim and Ada Booher, The son of a farmer and sawmill owner, Roy grew up on a farm in south-central Kentucky. Ironically, our family is of German decent. Our ancestor, John Bucher, came from Germany ( near Bad Neuhiem ) to Lancaster PA.

Because the great depression of 1929 made life in rural Kentucky difficult, Ray and Roy moved to Anaheim California in 1940. They went to work for their uncle, Barney Booher who had a trucking business. Their parents and younger brothers and sisters also left their Kentucky farm for the opportunities available in southern California in 1941.

When the US were dragged along in the war, a partial draft was called into action. When one draft letter arrived, adressed only to R. Booher, they both signed up for voluntary service.

They have never known who of them had been drafted, and they didn’t want to know either.

The letter was never opened. 

Although the twins were incorporated with the same regiment, the 30th infantry division, they were both in a different battalion, Roy in the 119th, Ray in the 120th.

The 30th regiment was first deployed to Normandy. It was here that the brothers would speak to each other for the last time, not knowing of the fate that was soon to hit them.

They introduced their comrades to each other and chattered away about the adventures they had been in.


On 12 September 1944, the division made its first steps into the Netherlands. In Noorbeek, the first town the 30th division passed through, the soldiers were welcomed by a joyful crowd of inhabitants. The troop didn’t have time to stay with the civilians, there were other villages to liberate. Just northeast of Noorbeek, at the foot of the Wolfsberg, the sound of gunfire sounded through the air.


‘Old Hickory’ had just lost its first man on Dutch soil. Staff Sergeant Roy L. Booher was hit by a German sniper, hiding in a hawthorn hedgerow.

A day afterwards, the 119th and the 120th batallion met again. Ray recognised some of the men in the 119th, but he didn’t see his brother. His worst fears became reality when he was summoned by the commanding officer of his brother’s batallion. 


A few days later, Ray was seriously wounded during an attack on Aachen. He was taken to a hospital near Paris to recover. After a long revalidation period, he returned to his regiment.


Soon after, near the Belgian town of Thirimont, he was wounded again. Due to the severity of his wounds, he was transported back to the US and honourably discharged.


After Roy Booher was killed, his comrades weren’t able to retrieve his body, because it was in the line of fire. His remains couldn’t be recoverded until well over a day after his death. He was buried at the US military cemetery of Henri-Chapelle, just across the Belgian border.


Ray Booher never really recovered from the combination of his war wounds and the loss of his beloved twin brother. He passed away in 1980, in his house in California. He left behind his wife and three children.

Ever since 1944, the towns of Noorbeek and Mesch quarrel about the doubtful ‘honour’ of being the town in which the first G.I. in the Netherlands was killed. While the people of Noorbeek say Booher was the first, the inhabitants of Mesch are certain it was private Leonard Hoffman from Pennsylvania who was killed first

Eye Witness statement:


Brouwers father was an eye witness of the death of Roy Booher. Sept. 12th 1944, the Americans went trew Noorbeek. Just outside of the village they (K co. of the 119th was leading) met German resistance.


Mr. Brouwers sr. saw the GI's coming and wanted to warn them for the Germans.

Roy Booher (119th K. Co) with another GI, went forward to look upon the "hill"  to see were the Germans were.

Roy Booher was on the left hand side of the road. He had to go over an hedge. Then he got shot.


Mr. Brouwers does not know if a medic went to him. He only knows that the K co. stopped and that after about an hour there came 3 planes which put gun fire on the German position. K co. didn't move any further that day, Mr. Brouwers told us that! But L co. of the 119th made a movement (threw

Bergenhuizen) on the left wing and took Terlinden (high ground) on the 12thRoy Booher's body was still in the field the next morning.  A local woman, who was a nurse, has seen/examined Roy Booher's dead body.