We're not lost, Sergeant, We're in … France


Dragoon-Colmar Commemoration 2014

In a big step, we’ve combined the Operation Dragoon and Colmar Pocket Commemorations for 2014 into one event, to be held at the Sheraton Pentagon City, 30 July to 3 August, 2014.

In another big step, it has it’s own website – 6thArmyGroup.com

All scheduling information, contact info and updates will be posted there, with supportive posts here.



GI Film Festival Returns to Town
12 April 2013, 18:02
Filed under: 517th, Films, Paratroopers, WWII | Tags: ,

Last year, my wife, my mother-in-law and I all attended parts of the GI Film Festival here in DC. The 2013 version runs 6-12 May. Looking over the films, there are several I’ll be interested in seeing and they have not yet revealed what the “Red Carpet” films for Friday and Saturday night will be. I noticed in particular that “Saints & Soldiers: Airborne Creed”, which involves paratroopers from the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team is being shown on Saturday at noon at the AMC Shirlington. (Some of their web pages are contradictory, but I am sure will be updated closer to the date.)

Don’t forget, you can sign up as an intern or volunteer.

There are a number of WWII period films, so definitely expect to hear more from me as we get closer to the date.



Program for 2013 Operation Dragoon Event

For information on the 2014 event, see our 6th Army Group website.

For the last few years, the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, Outpost Europe, has hosted an Operation Dragoon commemoration and seminar. It’s always a fantastic event. We are honored that many veterans attend and provide their insights and remembrances. There will be a few veterans I’ve never met as well as others I will be overjoyed to see again. It’s truly an event not to be missed.

THIS EVENT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC

Operation Dragoon – The “Forgotten D-Day”
The Allied Landings in Southern France and the Southern France Campaign
15 August 1944-14 September 1944

Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division
The Army Historical Foundation
The Embassy of France to the United States

When: 8-11 August 2013 (Thursday-Sunday)

8 August: 1 to 3 PM – registration; 5 to 8 PM – historical seminar
9 August: 9 AM to 5 PM – historical seminars and veterans’ remembrances
10 August: 8:30 to 1200 AM – ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery; 5 to 9:30 PM – Banquet
11 August: 8:30 to 11 AM – historical seminars

Where: Sheraton National Hotel, 900 South Orme Street, Arlington, VA 22204

Who: Veterans of the 6th Army Group; 7th Army; 6th Corps; 3rd, 36th, and 45th Infantry Divisions; 1st Allied Airborne Task Force – 517th Parachute Infantry Regimental Combat Team (including Anti-Tank Company/442nd Infantry Regiment, 509th Parachute Infantry Battalion, 4463rd Parachute Field Artillery Battalion, 550th Airborne Infantry Battalion, 551st Parachute Infantry Battalion, and the 2nd Independent Parachute Brigade (UK)); 1st Special Service Force; US Army Air Corps; US Navy, Coast Guard and Merchant Marine; the OSS; and veterans from the participant allied nations of France, Poland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Greece, and Canada who served in the supporting Air Forces and Navy; and their friends and families, as well as anyone interested in World War II history.

Why: To honor the veterans of the Forgotten D-Day, to preserve history, to educate the public, and to pass on the torch of their proud legacy.

Room Reservations: Price – $95 per night, one day prior to event and one day after. Reservations: 1-888-627-8210
Reservation Group Name: Operation Dragoon
Cut off date for reservations: Friday, 21 July 2013

Point of Contact: Monika Stoy, President, Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, timmoni15@yahoo.com, RSVP by 30 June 2013

REGISTRATION: Event registration – $30. Banquet – $40. (Free for Dragoon Vets)

Shuttle to/from airport provided by hotel, so no rental car required.

THIS EVENT IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC



68 years ago
15 August 2012, 08:00
Filed under: 36th, 3rd, 45th, 509th, 517th, 551st, Operation Dragoon | Tags: , ,

On a foggy August morning, paratroopers dropped literally through the clouds and into France. The liberation of southern France had begun and the rapid back-pedaling of German forces was just days away. With bold and heroic efforts, American and British soldiers teamed up with not only French and colonial soldiers, but also ordinary French men and women to set about the freeing of their country from Fascism.

Operation Dragoon is often derided as some sort of ‘Champagne Campaign’, in which the only threat was of being hung over in the morning. Audie Murphy stormed well-defended beaches and never understood the impression. In some places and at some times, the Germans were in such a hurry to save their own hides that it was more of a chase than a battle, but all too often, the deeply hardened old veterans stood and fought. They knew how to use the terrain and how to make the Allies pay for every inch of ground. The veterans of the 3rd, 36th and 45th Infantry Divisions and among the paratroopers knew to expect nothing less.

It was a hard fight and one for which the French are grateful. Let us pause this morning and give thanks for what they did so long ago.



Program for 2012 Operation Dragoon Event

Each year, the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, Outpost Europe, hosts an Operation Dragoon commemoration and seminar. It’s always a fantastic event. We are honored that many veterans attend and provide their insights and remembrances. There will be a few veterans I’ve never met as well as others I will be overjoyed to see again. It’s truly an event not to be missed.

Operation Dragoon – The “Forgotten D-Day”
The Allied Landings in Southern France and the Southern France Campaign
15 August 1944-14 September 1944

Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division
The Embassy of France to the United States

When: 19-22 July 2012 (Thursday-Sunday)

19 July: 1 to 3 PM – registration; 5 to 8 PM – historical seminar
20 July: 9 AM to 5 PM – historical seminars and veterans’ remembrances
21 July: 8:30 to 1200 AM – ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery; 5 to 9:30 PM – Banquet
22 July: 8:30 to 11 AM – historical seminars

Where: Sheraton National Hotel, 900 South Orme Street, Arlington, VA 22204

Who: Veterans of the 6th Army Group; 7th Army; 6th Corps; 3rd, 36th, and 45th Infantry Divisions; 1st Allied Airborne Task Force; 1st Special Service Force; US Army Air Corps; US Navy and Coast Guard, and their families; French Army Veterans; Veterans from Poland, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Greece, Canada, and France who served in the supporting Air Forces and Navy; and their friends and families.

List of participating veterans includes:

Medal of Honor recipients MSG Wilburn K. Ross, T5 Robert D. Maxwell, and COL Roger Donlon (Viet Nam)

LTG Richard Seitz, LTG David Grange, MG Lloyd Ramsey, COL Morton Katz, COL Henry Bodson, Bill Davis, and Darryl Egner.

Why: To honor the veterans of the Forgotten D-Day, to preserve history, to educate the public, and to pass on the torch of their proud legacy.

Room Reservations: Price – $89 per night, one day prior to event and one day after. Reservations: 1-888-627-8210
Reservation Group Name: Operation Dragoon
Cut off date for reservations: Friday, 6 July 2012

Point of Contact: Monika Stoy, President, Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, monikastoy@yahoo.com, RSVP by 30 June 2012

REGISTRATION: Event registration – $30. Banquet – $35. (Free for Dragoon Vets)

Shuttle to/from airport provided by hotel, so no rental car required.

Update: I had been especially excited to have the chance to meet Colonel Van T. Barfoot, who made national news with a dispute over flying the flag in his front yard, but unfortunately, the Colonel passed away in March.



Fantastic Event, Again

Once again, the Operation Dragoon Commemoration & Seminar has come and gone. It was a marvelous event. There were about a dozen veterans in attendance (I heard 13, but I wasn’t counting heads), including the 4 who were awarded the French Legion of Honor at Arlington Cemetery (Dick Seitz, John Carter, Roy Brumfield and John Keller).

It was an entire weekend of “highlights” for me, so I am thrilled that I got so much of it filmed. Interestingly, both last year’s event and this year’s provided me with about 32GB of raw footage. I expect to post Jim Welsh’s account of being in the drop zone/landing zone with the 551st while the gliders were landing in the next few days. I already posted a picture of Robert Maxwell and I to Facebook, but have a short piece about him in progress as well.

Everyone in attendance was so interested and involved in sharing the history that you couldn’t help but feel closer to everyone by the end of the weekend. While it made parting sorrowful, it also provided an incentive for everyone to return in 2012. Keep August 2-5, 2012 open for the 68th Anniversary.



Dragoon 2011 Commemoration/Seminar schedule

I have some more details on the Operation Dragoon Commemoration and Seminar being held next weekend (4-7 August 2011). While I do not yet have the list of speakers, I can reveal the schedule. Most of the seminars will be held on the 4th and 5th, with the wreath-laying and banquet on the 6th.

The banquet has always been pretty special, as veterans who’ve had a chance to get reacquianted have an opportunity and enough comfort with the audience to provide very interesting recollections of the war, such as John Carter’s Thanksgiving 1944 story.

At the wreath-laying, the French Legion of Honor will be presented to Lieutenant General (ret.) Seitz (517th ABN), Mr. John Keller (3rd ID), Mr. John Carter (1st Allied Airborne Task Force), and Mr. Roy Brumfield (3rd ID). LTG Seitz was the battalion commander of 2/517 PIR during the war and I read an interesting story about the interview process for new soldiers joining 2/517 as they formed that I detailed in a post this past winter.

LTG Seitz at the 517th reunion in 2005

There is ample time on Friday and Saturday for some oral interviews and I’ll be trying to sit with both Mr. Carter and LTG Seitz. Of course, I haven’t had a chance to really talk to any 509th veterans at length yet and Jim Welsh of the 551st PIB would be a great interview as well. So, all kinds of opportunities. If you’re interested in conducting some interviews, you’re more than welcome to come.

4 August (Thursday) – Check-in to the Sheraton National Hotel, 900 South Orme St. Arlington, VA 22204

1500-1700    Registration

1700-1830    Dinner (no host)

1830-2030    Opening Remarks and initial historical seminar

5 August (Friday)

0830-1200     Historical Seminar Session 2

1200-1330     Lunch (no host)

1330-1700     Historical Seminar Session 3

1700-1830     Dinner (no host)

1830-2030     Operation Dragoon historical/documentary films

6 August (Saturday)

0900-1000     Commemorative Ceremony Memorial Amphitheater (Mil: ASU, Civ: Business Attire)

1015-1100     Wreath laying ceremonies – Tomb of the Unknowns, 3rd Infantry Division Monument, Audie Murphy gravesite

1130-1730     Lunch (no host) and free time

1730-2000     Banquet (Mil: Dress, Civ: Business Attire)

7 August (Sunday)

0900-1100     Concluding historical seminar/closing remarks

Special Honored Guests: Mr. Robert D. Maxwell, 3rd Infantry Division Medal of Honor Recipient in WWII and Operation Dragoon veteran and Mayor Michel Tonon, Mayor of Salon-de-Provence, France. More about T5 Maxwell and his Medal of Honor next week.

You can also email CPT Monika Stoy for further information.



Weekend Wanderings Valentine’s Weekend 2011
13 February 2011, 11:30
Filed under: 517th, Veterans, Weekend Wanderings | Tags:

A mix of links this week, including one historical novel that has a love story to celebrate Valentine’s Day.

  • There’s an interesting sounding novel out called Officer’s Row 1904 that takes place at Fort Rosecrans in San Diego a century ago. Having truly enjoyed watching Downton Abbey on PBS recently, the late-Victorian era and it’s social conventions are starting to intrigue me. It’s perhaps too late to order this as a Valentine’s Day present for your sweetheart, but you could always buy early for 2012! Sales of the book benefit families of Explosive Ordinance Disposal personnel in all the armed services.
  • Craig Swann had a good post about the Walmart/Wilderness decision.
  • I’d recently read Battling Buzzards, which chronicles the history of the 517th Parachute Regimental Combat Team. I wanted to understand more about the unit, since I’ve met several of the men over the last few years. They’re having what the think might be their final annual reunion July 13th-18th down in Atlanta and I think I’m going to see if I can attend. Like the Operation Dragoon and Colmar Pocket events, it offers a unique experience to meet history.


You want tough? Try 2/517′s interview process

I attended the local gun show recently and ran across a great book-dealer, Jack Long (jacklong1945@verizon.net), who had a great batch of books on display. I really lucked out, scoring a 50th Anniversary copy of Edson Raff’s We Jumped to Fight, Ralph Ingersoll’s The Battle is the Payoff, Gerald Devlin’s Paratrooper, and Bob Bowen’s Fighting with the Screaming Eagles (on 1/401 GIR). However, I started by reading Gerald Astor’s Battling Buzzards, since I’ve met several men who served in the 517th PIR. It’s quite a book.

Last year, one of the veterans at the Operation Dragoon commemoration was none other than the CO of 2/517, Richard Seitz. Never having read anything about the 517th before that event, I had no idea who he was. His posting as battalion commander of 2/517 a few days before his 25th birthday made him one of the youngest battalion commanders during the war. The trust that COL Lou Walsh had in his abilities was proven wise during the Battle of the Bulge, as Task Force Seitz helped clear the way into St.Vith. Years later, Seitz rose to command the 82nd Airborne Division, retiring as a Lieutenant General in 1975. If you look at the Airborne battalion and regimental commanders in World War II, you can find a cadre that built and maintained our Airborne and Special Forces troops for the next thirty years. I’ve been considering writing a volume akin to D.S. Freeman’s Lee’s Lieutenants covering all of these men – perhaps Ridgway’s Lieutenants….

Well, the 517th had started at Camp Toccoa, like the more famous 506th, with new recruits getting their basic training within the regiment. Like every other regiment at Toccoa, training was tremendously difficult and wash-outs were common. Despite this, Colonel Walsh was a picky man. Every potential member of the regiment was interviewed before joining the regiment to determine whether they belonged. One of Seitz’s interview questions (though not given to every candidate) was “Can you put your first through that wall?”



Thanksgiving 1944
25 November 2010, 10:09
Filed under: 517th, Operation Dragoon, Paratroopers, Veterans | Tags: , , ,

As I sit here in my living room, on the couch, with the puppy snuggling next to my hip, the rain outside doesn’t affect us. Of course, for the men in the airborne in 1944, Thanksgiving wasn’t necessarily so comfortable. At the Operation Dragoon event this August, I met John Carter, who served in an Airborne Engineering Company and an Airborne Signals Company. John Carter was attached to the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment and, for Thanksgiving 1944, situated along the Italian border, protecting the right flank of the 6th Army Group as it marched north.

On November 23, 1944, this Thanksgiving message from General Eisenhower was broadcast  on the home front.

In this great war theater millions of America’s fighting men and their Allies are, by their courage, endurance and suffering, making daily headway against a fanatical enemy. They are surmounting unbelievable hardships and obstacles to insure to all of us the future right to live as free people. Mud, bitter cold, bullets and minefields cannot stop them if they are plentifully supplied and supported from the homeland. They need myriads of shells and tires and blankets and guns and planes – a thousand things to enable them to keep up the incessant pressure. These they must get from the money you lend to the government.

Another thing – they are entitled to the constant assurance of your understanding, of your resolution, and of your unflagging zeal in the cause for which they are offering their lives. To keep faith with them none of us can permit our minds and hearts to stray for a single second from the great task we have before us. In the current war bond drive, you once again have special opportunity to give these men the things they require and by so doing, reassure them and the whole world that the United States is a single, determined unit in working and fighting for complete victory.

There is just one way to gain the peace we want; each of us must work with ever increasing devotion and effectiveness up to the day the enemy capitulates.

We here – all of us – count upon you to over-subscribe the war loan and then to transform the money quickly into vital fighting equipment. It is needed, now.

Eisenhower also apparently decreed that every serviceman in the European Theater of Operations have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. John Carter had volunteered for the Army. John Carter had volunteered for the Airborne. On Thanksgiving 1944, John volunteered to cook a Thanksgiving turkey on the front lines….

John’s wife, Fran, who is quite the pistol, says that John is allowed to cook at home despite the adventure of his 1944 Thanksgiving turkey. Fran built B-29s in Birmingham, Alabama, while John fought the Germans across France. After the war, they married and became professors at Samford University in Birmingham. In 1998, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Fran founded the American Rosie the Riveter Association. There’s a great article about them in American Profile magazine.

On this Thanksgiving, I’d like to give thanks to John and Fran Carter, as well as the rest of the Greatest Generation, for their efforts. The spirit that they embody lives today in our service men and women, serving at home and abroad with little thanks or recognition. God bless John and Fran. God bless our troops. Happy Thanksgiving to all….




Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 530 other followers

%d bloggers like this: