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Willemsorde recipient Hazelhoff-Roelfzema popularized WWII resistance history

Soldier of Orange dead at age 90

Tags: Excerpts from the Windmill

HONOKA’A, Hawaii - He lived the life that movies are made of. That is the way a local daily in Hawaii summarized the life and career of the most widely known WWII Dutch resistance man, Engelandvaarder and Dutch wartime soldier, Sarabaya-born Erik Hazelhoff-Roelfzema. A resident of Hawaii since the early 1970s, Hazelhoff-Roelfzema recently died at home, at the age of 90.

Erik Hazelhoff-Roelfzema escaped Nazi-occupied Netherlands in 1942; was a secret agent who took part in covert landings along the Dutch Coast during World War II; flew in the elite Pathfinder Force of the Royal Air Force seventy sorties over enemy territory, including 25 to Berlin; was an aide to Dutch Queen Wilhelmina, who knighted him for his service to her country; and he flew Princess Beatrix back to the Netherlands after the war and took part in the ceremony in which she became queen. Erik Hazelhoff-Roelfzema received the highest military decoration, the Willemsorde. Until his death, Prince Bernhard remained a close friend of the Hawaiian Dutch-American.

After the WWII, Hazelhoff-Roelfzema became a writer for the first "Today" show and helped launch the "Tonight Show." He wrote the bestseller ”Soldier of Orange,” in which he recalled his experiences during the war. Subsequently, the book was made into a movie and nominated for a Golden Globe award.

Hazelhoff-Roelfzema who immigrated to the USA, was a director energy company Barnwell Industries. The company continues to be a leader in energy development in Hawaii and oil and natural gas exploration in Canada and North America. It describes Hazelhoff-Roelfzema an active and valued member of the board and one who gave great business advice and was an excellent judge of people. Barnwell attributes this to his war-time exploits and his need to make snap judgments of people that he met.

Hazelhoff-Roelfzema was born on April 3, 1917, in Java when it was still a Dutch colony. He was active in the local community.

He is survived by wife, Karin; son, Erik Hazelhoff-Roelfzema Jr; daughter, Karna Hazelhoff-Castellon; a granddaughter; and a great-granddaughter.