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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



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.



First session of Colmar seminar

Last night, the seminar began in earnest. General Sullivan opened the seminar by talking about the “world-class soldiers” who fought in the battle, American and French, citing specific Medals of Honor awarded. This same spirit can be seen in the Army through Korea, Vietnam and today. He specifically mentioned SFC Paul R. Smith of the 3rd Infantry Division, who was awarded the Medal of Honor for action on 4 April 2003 in Iraq that recalls Audie Murphy’s action in WWII.

en Francais:

La nuit dernière, la conférence a commencé dans sérieux. Le Général Sullivan a ouvert la conférence en parlant « des soldats world-class » qui combattu dans la bataille, américain et français, citant les médailles de l’honneur spécifiques a attribué. Cet même esprit peut être vu dans l’armée par la Corée, Vietnam et aujourd’hui. Il a spécifiquement mentionné SFC Paul R. Smith de la 3ème Division d’infanterie, qui a été attribuée la médaille de l’honneur pour l’action le 4 avril 2003 en Irak qui rappelle l’action d’Audie Murphy dans WWII.



Weekend Wanderings, 28 years after Beirut

28 years ago today, we had Marines deployed with weapons they could not use, with a barracks that was indefensible, in a location where it was bound to be attacked.

  • Over at One Marine’s View, we are reminded of those brave men, including comments by a Marine whose time was too short to go on that deployment. Semper Fi, Marines.
  • Thankfully, on 28 April 2008, in Ramadi, two Marines were properly armed and prevented a similar tragedy. I’ve linked to the story before, but since it is such a contrast with Beirut and my good friend, Alex Apple, was but 100 yards away, let me re-link: Commander Salamander had posted a speech and video of General Kelly’s speech on the two Navy Crosses awarded to LCPL Jordan Haerter and CPL Jonathan Yale. He linked to his source at American Thinker, who had written about it back in March of 2009 as well.
  • Paul Woodadge, who gives excellent tours in Normandy, passed along a great story of two veterans from the UK who reunited 67 years later, both assuming the other hadn’t survived.
  • The Congressional Medal of Honor Society met in Lousiville, Kentucky this year and Norman Fulkerson wrote a good article about it. (Thanks to Monika for passing it along!)


Humility
29 September 2011, 19:57
Filed under: Marines, Medal of Honor | Tags: ,

I guess it’s odd in a sense that humility is such an admirable trait. I’ve always liked my heroes humble. The “aww, shucks, I just got lucky” farm boy who hits the homerun or the real warrior who can’t understand why he’s recognized for doing something “any Marine would have done”.

There’s a long tradition of soldiers, sailors and Marines who are awarded medals and wonder why, or in the instance of the Iwo Jima flag-raisers, who get the adulation as heroes, but don’t understand it. They were just doing their job, and, as Dakota Meyer noted in his interview on 60 Minutes, despite having done more than they can reasonably have been asked to do, they have a lingering feeling that they didn’t do enough. Many of them don’t want the attention and don’t want to be treated any differently than anyone else.

I pointed out in an update that Sergeant Dakota Meyer wanted to join the New York Fire Department. He’d served with men who’d been firemen there and his grandfather was a fireman. He missed the deadline to apply by a day, but the city attempted to re-open acceptance of applications. A judge ruled that reopening wouldn’t allow all possible applicants an equal chance, since not everyone has internet access, so he wouldn’t reopen the process to everyone. He did, however, see Meyer as special, so he offered to allow only Meyer to apply. His lawyer, Keith Sullivan, let everyone know where our hero stood on the issue.

“Dakota refuses to compromise his values,” Sullivan said Tuesday. “He said he would like to thank the city of New York and the people who have shown him so much support, but he couldn’t in good conscience take a one-person exception. He will apply for the exam when it’s given again in four years.”

Thanks to our friends over at Bring the Heat for pointing us to Neptunus Lex to read up on it.



SGT Dakota Meyer, MOH

On “60 Minutes” last night, Marine Sergeant Dakota Meyer said “You either get them out alive or you die trying. If you didn’t die trying, you didn’t try hard enough.”

It’s heart-crushing to know that this young man, who braved heavy enemy fire five times, saving 36 of his comrades, sounds as if he feels, at his core, that he failed. One thing that comes out when you talk to veterans is the guilt they feel for surviving when othes did not. It seems that those who are marked by receiving the Medal of Honor feel that burden even more so. I think of Audie Murphy and how he struggled with the burden, or John Basilone, who eagerly went back to “his boys” in combat in the Pacific. We can look to the flag-raisers from Iwo Jima and read in Flags of Our Fathersjust how difficult it is to be in the blazing focus of publicity.

SGT Meyer’s actions on 8 September 2009 were simply astounding. He feels not only that any other Marine would have done just as he did, but also that Army Captain William Swenson has been unjustly denied any recognition for his actions that day. Two other Marines, Captain Ademola Fabayo and Staff Sergeant Juan Rodriguez-Chavez, were awarded the Navy Cross for their actions, but the paperwork for any recognition for Captain Swenson was “lost”. Swenson quite rightly had criticized the officers at nearby Forward Operating Base Joyce for refusing to provide either air or fire support during the six-hour firefight. His criticism was confirmed when a military investigation cited those officers for negligence, effectively ending their careers.

Meyer had volunteered for Afghanistan when 3rd Battalion, 3rd Marines was deploying to Iraq. The Scout-Sniper became a part of Marine Embedded Training Team 2-8, helping to train Afghani troops. First Lt. Michael Johnson, Gunnery Sgt. Edwin “Wayne” Johnson, Staff Sgt. Aaron Kenefick and Navy Hospital Corpsman 3rd Class James Layton led a combined force into Ganjgal, expecting to meet with village elders and instead being ambushed. When neither air support nor fire support was provided to the surrounded Marines, Meyer looked over to Staff Sgt. Rodriguez-Chavez and said, “We’re going in.” In five trips in and out of the kill zone, Meyer, the Staff Sergeant, Swenson, Ademola and an Afghan interpreter named Fazel, were able to save 36 Americans and Afghanis. They could not, however, reach the Marines in time to save them.

There are 85 living members of the Congressional Medal of Honor Society and I’ve read that Meyer has already had advice from Salvatore Giunta. Robert Maxwell told me that the Society has annual meetings and my hope is that SGT Meyer will attend, listen and share his experience with the others who have borne this burden for many years.

“If I get it, it’s good because it’s good for the Marine Corps, it’s good for the guys and it’s good for the parents. But I’m not in it for me,” he said. “These guys gave the ultimate sacrifice for our country, and their families have to live with it. If they give it to me, it’s not for me. It’s for those guys and their families.”

UPDATE: Meyer has applied to become a New York City fireman. He had missed the deadline for applications to join the FDNY by a number of hours, but the city has reversed course and plans to accept his application.



T5 Robert Dale Maxwell, MOH

Technician Fifth Grade Robert Dale Maxwell was a “wireman” for the 7th Infantry Regiment in the 3rd Infantry Division in World War II. Outside of Besancon, France, Maxwell and a few other wire men*, armed with only their .45 caliber pistols were defending Colonel Ramsey’s battalion command post against a German attack.

Maxwell trained as a machinegunner, so, naturally, when he arrived at the 3rd Infantry Division, he was placed in a role as a communications wire man. Well, it was probably a good thing that the Army assigned Maxwell to a task other than he’d trained for because it put him in position to save the lives of COL Ramsey and several other men in the battalion command post.

On the evening of 7 September 1944, a number of Germans attacked Ramsey’s command post. Maxwell remembers firing his pistol at muzzle flashes in the tree line, as the enemy was closing range. When the enemy had gotten to about 15 yards away, a grenade landed on Maxwell’s side of the wall. Thinking like SFC Petry did in Afghanistan, Maxwell tried to find the grenade on the ground to toss it back. Since he couldn’t find it right away, he covered it with a blanket and his own body. His foot was badly mangled, some shrapnel hit him in the arm and deflected to his head, and somehow, he got tangled up in a bicycle. His platoon leader helped him to his feet and they made their way back to the battalion aid station, getting knocked down together by another grenade blast.

When they met again 66 years and nine days later, Ramsey finally got to thank him. CPT M0nika Stoy had convinced Maxwell to attend the reunion of the 3rd Infantry Division by telling him that General Ramsey would be there. She’d convinced Ramsey to attend because Maxwell would be there. Unfortunately, the General was ill that day, but CPT Stoy was not deterred. She loaded Maxwell, the mayors of Salzburg, Austria and of Ammerschwir, France and others into vehicles early in the morning, drove them down to Roanoke, Virginia and made the reunion a reality.

After the Operation Dragoon event this year, we were able to have dinner at the Stoy’s house with Mr. Maxwell and some others. He was a real pleasure to spend time with and was headed to France the next day to participate in a number of Liberation celebrations along the route of the 3rd ID. After Maxwell was wounded, the Division captured Berchesgarden** and is planning on visiting there for the first time next year to commemorate that event as well.

It was really an honor to meet Maxwell, and I encourage everyone to consider attending our future events. Next year’s event has already been scheduled for 2-5 August 2012.

*My recollection is that Maxwell said he was aided by James Joyce (whose name stuck in my head) and one other soldier in defense of the command post, but MSNBC states that it was 3 other soldiers.

**There is much controversy over who captured Berchesgarden and Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, with the both 3rd ID, 101st ABD and the French claiming to have captured it.



Weekend Wanderings, 24 July 2011

This past week marked a momentous occasion for this blog. It exceeded last year’s hits – 1650. However, since most of last year’s hits were all due to one post that was linked on Ace of Spades, it was basically just luck (and being friendly to the right people!) So, this year’s numbers (slightly over 10 hits a day most of the time) feel much more earned.



Songs for a Hero

Lucas Peerman, who is Leroy Petry’s cousin and the digital editor of the Las Cruces Sun-News, had written one of the articles I’d used in researching for my blog entry on SFC Petry. He has also been blogging about the experience on his own blog, A Week in Washington. When Miguel Estrada posted on comment on my blog entry that he had some songs he’d like to give to SFC Petry on a CD, I passed along his contact information to Lucas. Lucas contacted Miguel and, if you read Lucas’s blog entry, you can learn a bit about Migeul and download his songs. It’s a great tribute to our troops by a patriot who adopted this land, just as all of our own ancestors did over the years.

If you’ve seen “Taking Chance“, with Kevin Bacon, I think you’ll find that though Lucas has several marvelous entries in his blog, but tops on the list must be the story of a Marine who felt honored just to share a beer with Leroy.




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