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


Follow the Money: Hope, but caution, on Ephrata
12 July 2013, 19:13
Filed under: 101st, 506th, Band of Brothers, Veterans | Tags: , , ,

As I mentioned the other day, Stephen Sears, who sculpted the Winters Leadership Memorial in Normandy is attempting to peddle his one-of-a-kind work to Ephrata, Pennsylvania. It they decide not to erect the monument, he plans on offering for sale to Derry and, failing that, Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The Ephrata Borough council met on Thursday and expressed their concerns (including a worry about being sued by the Winters family if the memorial went up), but took no action. Since the council’s role has only been to allocate the land for a memorial, they don’t necessarily directly control what memorial is placed there. They had received a letter from Jill Peckelun, Major Winters’ daughter, opposing the monument and for councilman Vic Richards, this was a game-changer.

On the other hand, local football coach and project co-chair, Scott Shelley was basically unmoved by her letter and by talking to her about it. “He’s an American figure now,” he said. Then, he blamed the Winters family for the “firestorm” that has occurred. It’s shocking to me that he is choosing not only to ignore Dick Winters’ explicitly stated wishes, but also blaming the victims (the Winters family) for the controversy.

Now, of course, Mr. Sears will profit whether the monument goes up in Ephrata or not — they made a $15,000 non-refundable deposit AND he can go to Derry and Hershey to see if either of them will give him $90,000. I’ve often heard prosecutors say, “Follow the money.” You can see who stands to profit the most here. Assign blame as you see fit.

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Against the Winters monument in Ephrata
10 July 2013, 18:38
Filed under: 101st, 506th, Band of Brothers, Veterans | Tags: , , ,

Normally, I am in favor of memorializing our veterans at every possibility, but, recently, a new memorial to Major Dick Winters has been proposed in his hometown, Ephrata, Pennsylvania. Actually, we need to clarify, it is a DUPLICATE monument, not a NEW monument.

Much of the information here comes from Joe Muccia, who is one of the most knowledgeable historians of Easy Company.

I did not personally know Major Winters, but I know several people, like Joe, who did. He was quite a humble gentleman. He didn’t want a memorial created to him in the first place, but as Rosemary Clemons relates, he was convinced to allow the original memorial in Normandy:

Herm and I actually delivered this proposal to Dick Winters house since an email from Ethel said the family was against it but she thought it was too important a decision and should be made by Dick Winters. He said he would agree but this would be the only statue and it would be in Normandy to represent all those in a leadership role in World War 2. This was toward the end of his life and we believe his wishes should be honored. We don’t understand how those who say they wish to honor him could actually go against his wishes.

The Winters Leadership Memorial in Normandy was designed specifically for placement there, with the agreement that the monument would be the only one to Major Winters and would not be duplicated anywhere.

There’s a football coach involved who the scupltor, Stephen Sears, was able to get on his side to raise funds for the monument. Over at Lancaster Online, you can read about it, but the gist of the story is that the coach had read about a father and son who traveled to Normandy to see the actual Winters Leadership Memorial, then came to Ephrata to visit Winter’s grave.

“I thought if they came all that way just to see this small, humble gravestone, what will happen once we have that statue here, and they don’t have to go all the way to Normandy to see it,” he said.

Joe put the argument succinctly when he wrote:

He just doesn’t get it. The Major wanted a statue to honor ALL small unit leaders…not just about him. He wanted it in Normandy because that’s where these men fought and where many of them died. It’s sad that so many profess to honor and adhere to the Major’s leadership tenants but can’t follow one of his last requests. It’s also amazing how money motivates some people to forget their values.

This is really about the sculptor, Stephen Sears, who wants to make $90,000 by selling Ephrata, … or Derry … Hershey, a duplicate monument.

So, in summary, Winters never wanted a monument to himself. His family never wanted a memorial to him. They relented and allowed ONE monument, in NORMANDY, as long as it was dedicated to ALL JUNIOR LEADERS. Now, the sculptor is trying to make a buck, exploiting well-meaning people who see the tourism dollars as they contemplate the leadership example of Winters.

Because the Major was against such a memorial, I and many others are against it. Of course, if they want to name a trail after him, or want to build a separate, unique memorial to him (against his wishes and those of his family), I’d have far less ground to stand on. I’m curious what then-13-year-old Jordan Brown, who helped raise the $98,000 for the original memorial, feels about it.

Update: Winters’ daughter, Jill Peckelun, has come out in opposition to it as well. How did she find out that the memorial was being planned? She read about it in the paper like everyone else. The more I learn about this whole thing, the less I like. One would think that any sensible person would at least contact the family to help with fundraising, if not to ask permission.



Airborne Cavalryman in Normandy

I really enjoyed the scene in Band of Brothers when a paratrooper rides up to Easy Company on a white horse. If memory serves, the soldier’s name is Farnsworth, linking in my mind with Brigadier General Elon J. Farnsworth who died at Gettysburg. Turns out that they may have been channeling Mario Patruno of F Company, 3/506th. Patruno visited the Military Museum of North Florida in February to pose with his own mounted likeness. There’s another, more extensive article on Patruno that was published in 2011 in the Mayport Mirror, which starts, “Army Pfc. Mario Patruno was 23, tough and fit. He’d fought in the ring as a youth boxer, and in the streets of Holyoke, Mass., with a brawling gang called the Bond Street Rovers.” Those paratroopers are an interesting bunch!

Of note, one of the other attendees was “C.C. Sprinkle, 91, who was the co-pilot of a B-26 Marauder during World War II and took part in Operation Dragoon, the invasion of South France in August 1944.” Hopefully, we’ll be able to get C.C. up to Washington for the Operation Dragoon Commemoration and Seminar in August.



Roy Gates passes away
20 February 2013, 08:14
Filed under: 101st, Band of Brothers, Veterans | Tags:

Sadly, 2LT Roy Gates passed away earlier this month. We’d celebrated both his service in E/506 (Easy Company) and his 90th birthday in the early days of this blog.

In Stars and Stripes, they note that young Lieutenant Gates was put in charge of a stash of fine wine and liquor at Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest. He was apparently the right man for the job. “What did I do with it?” Gates said in an interview in 2011. “Drank it.”

Joe Muccia and Phil Russo passed along the sad news via Facebook.



Dig WW2
29 May 2012, 17:56
Filed under: 101st, WWII | Tags: , ,

Highly recommend you check out Paul Reed’s notes on Dig WW2. Sounds like it won’t be available outside the UK for a while, but when it airs in the US, I know I’ll be watching.

One of our favorite guides, Paul Woodadge, helped the project get into Brecourt Manor for the dig there.

Out of Battle

Dan with WO Geert JonkerFilming at the Hitler Line, Monte CassinoThe Bunker excavated by the Gustav Line Group, CassinoCanadian Helmet found on the Hitler Line, CassinoDan with the Canadian helmet at the Hitler Line, CassinoFilming in the Liri Valley, Monte Cassino
Filming at Cassino War Cemetery, ItalyThe Dutch Recovery TeamWith the Dutch Recovery TeamDan at the White House, ArnhemUsing the iPad at the White House; Then & NowAirborne: the Arnhem WW2 Dig
Filming at ArnhemThe Family of Sammy Cassidy with DanThe Family of Sammy Cassidy at ArnhemArnhem expert Robert Sigmond with DanEntering the Juno BunkerDan getting Dug-In
The French local TV covering the Juno DigCrawling through the Juno BunkerExploring the Juno BunkerFilming at the Juno BunkerUsing Technology to map Brecourt ManorThe Brecourt site marked out

Dig WW2 Photos, a set on Flickr.

Last year I worked as the Historical Consultant for Dig WW2, made for BBC NI by 360Production. The series in some ways grew out of Dig1940 we made back in 2009 however this was more ambitious – to look at aspects from the whole war from the point of view of what was left behind.

We were lucky to follow several digs across Europe: one at Arnhem where a Northern Ireland soldier fell in 1944 – another in Italy near Monte Cassino – and two in Normandy, at Juno Beach and the site of the Brecourt Manor Battery; the latter attacked by the ‘Band of Brothers’ on D-Day.

The series also looked at sites and digs in the UK, with a heavy emphasis on Ireland and included a dig on a Spitfire where the recovered guns were made to work again!

These…

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2LT Roy Gates turns 90
26 July 2011, 20:15
Filed under: 101st, Band of Brothers, Officers, Veterans, WWII | Tags: , ,

2LT Roy Gates must have gotten around a lot as a young man, even before he helped defeat the Germans in World War II. He was born in New York, enlisted in the Army in Texas and is now retired in Florida. Here’s wishing a happy birthday to Lieutenant Gates, who just turned 90.

Hat tip to Mooch, who leads the Easy Company reenactors.



Goodbye, Major

As this posts, the memorial service for Major Winters is starting in Hershey, Pennsylvania. While the accolades that have been bestowed upon him reflect things we should have noticed in many more officers during World War II and many conflicts since, I think it fitting and proper that we commemorate the service and the example of Dick Winters. He was a skilled and caring leader of men. There were others like him, but he’s the one we know the best.

There is a good slideshow of photos in tribute to the Major. You can also check a report on the ceremony held in late January for Major Winters in Carentan.

There is movement to erect a monument in Normandy, using his likeness and

identified as 1st Lt. Richard Winters, E-Company, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne, but will also be representative of ALL U.S. Army junior officers of all the divisions who were responsible for leading soldiers into combat in Normandy on June 6, 1944 and will showcase all the division names and corps of those who fought in Normandy in the very early stages of D-Day. The monument will prominently feature the words Leadership 6-6-1944 and a quote from Major Winters below his likeness which will read: “Wars do not make men great, but they do bring out the greatness in good men.” The monument will also have the words inscribed: Dedicated to all U.S. Army junior officers who led the way on June 6, 1944.

I do support this, because it is dedicated to all those junior officers, without whom failure of the whole enterprise would have been certain.




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