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


Program for 2012 Colmar Pocket Event (Revised 7 December)

Once again, Outpost Europe of the Society of the Third Infantry Division and the Embassy of France are hosting a Battle of the Colmar Pocket Commemoration and Seminar, on 6-9 December 2012 at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington Virginia. This event honors the veterans of the 6th Army Group, 1st French Army, XXIst US Corps, 3rd, 28th, 36th and 75th Infantry Divisions and the 12th Armored Division, including 9 Medal of Honor recipients (Charles P. Murray, Ellis Weicht, Bernard Bell, Keith L. Ware, Gus Kefort, Eli Whiteley, Russell Dunham, Forrest Peden, and Jose Valdez).

The Battle of the Colmar Pocket, Alsace, France – The “Other” Battle of the Bulge
December 1944 – February 1945

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

When: 6-9 December 2012 (Thursday-Sunday)

6 December: 2 to 4 PM – Registration ($30); 5 to 8 PM – Reception and Seminar Session I
7 December: 8 AM to 9 AM – Seminar Session II; 9 AM to  3 PM Visit to Library of Congress and Veteran’s Oral History Project (break for lunch & dinner on your own); 6 PM to 8 PM Seminar Session III & Documentary Film Presentation
8 December: 10:15 AM to 12 AM – ceremonies at Arlington National Cemetery: wreath laying at Tomb of the Unknowns, 3ID Monument, Audie Murphy gravesite; 12 AM to 4 PM Open time; 4 PM to 5 PM Cocktail Hour (no host); 6 PM Banquet ($35)
9 December: 9 AM to 11:30 AM – Seminar Session IV

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

Who: Veterans of the 3rd, 28th, 36th, and 75th Infantry Divisions; 12th Armored Division; XXIst US Corps; French Army Veterans; and their friends and families.

List of participating veterans will be included later this fall.

Why: To honor the veterans of the Colmar Pocket, 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: Colmar Pocket
Shuttle to/from airport provided by hotel, so no rental car required.

Point of Contact: Monika Stoy, President, Outpost Europe, Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, timmoni15@yahoo.com, RSVP by 30 November 2012. If you wish to attend, please notify us, but do not wait for confirmation – simply register when you arrive.

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

Scholars: If you are interested in submitting a paper or giving a presentation, contact Monika Stoy, by 30 September 2012.
Sponsors: If you are interested in sponsoring an event at the conference (the banquet, opening reception on Thursday or the cocktail hour on Saturday, for example) or advertising in the event brochure, contact Monika Stoy, timmoni15@yahoo.com, by 30 October 2012. We are still open to sponsorship, but appearance in printed materials may no longer be an option due to time constraints.

REVISIONS: Updated email for Monika.Updated to indicate on-site registration still open (no need to confirm attendance). Friday schedule changed to allow visit to Library of Congress, seminar session III moved from Friday afternoon to Friday evening, Arlington cemetery ceremonies on Saturday instead of Sunday, seminar session IV on Sunday instead of Saturday.



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.



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.



Colmar Pocket Seminar Schedule (Updated 24 October)

UPDATED: The schedule has been updated, as Wreaths Across America will be taking place at Arlington National Cemetery on Saturday. The wreath-laying will occur Sunday morning.

Once again, Outpost Europe of the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division and the Embassy of France will be hosting our Colmar Pocket Seminar and Commemoration. It will be held at the Sheraton National Hotel, 900 South Orme Street, Arlington, VA 22204. Special guests include GEN Frederick J. Kroesen, veteran of the Colmar fighting, (video from last year) and GEN Gordon Sullivan, former Army Chief of Staff and current President of the Association of the United States Army.

This little remembered battle was so vigorously contested that 10 American soldiers were awarded the Medal of Honor: Audie Murphy, Charles P. Murray, Ellis Weicht, Bernard Bell, Keith L. Ware, Gus Kefurt, Eli Whiteley, Russell Dunham, Forrest Peden and Jose Valdez. There will be a number of veterans in attendance and their commentary and insights are priceless. The cost for the seminars is a mere $30 and further donations to support the event are always welcome. (Veterans of the Colmar pocket do not pay for the seminars or the banquet.)

Thursday, 8 December 2011

1400-1600 Registration

1730-2100 Reception and Historical Seminar Session I

Friday, 9 December 2011

0900-1130 Seminar Session II

1130-1300 Lunch (no host)

1300-1700 Seminar Session III

1700-1800 Dinner (no host)

1815-2100 Documentary film presentation

Saturday, 10 December 2011

0900-1200 Seminar Session IV

1200-1600 Open Time

1600-1700 Cocktail Hour (no host)

1700 Banquet ($35 per person, separate from the seminar fee)

11 December 2011

0900 Depart for Arlington National Cemetery

0930-1130 Wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, 3rd ID Monument and Audie Murphy gravesite

 

Room reservations at the Sheraton are available at a discounted rate. The hotel is located near National Airport (DCA) and there is a free shuttle, so a rental car is not necessary to attend the seminar or to participate in the wreath-laying. There is also a restaurant located in the hotel that many attendees use for the convenience.

Contact Monika Stoy, President of Outpost Europe via email: monikastoy@yahoo.com



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.



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.




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