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


Another perspective on Herbert Sobel
11 September 2014, 19:40
Filed under: Band of Brothers, Officers | Tags: , ,

Marcus Brotherton wrote a nice blog post that reveals more of the truth about Herbert Sobel, the man, to add to the image many people have of him from the HBO series. I tend to agree with Marcus and many of the veterans that Captain Sobel truly shaped Easy Company in a positive way, but, based on what else I’ve read, it was better that he didn’t lead the company in combat. His methods may not have been the right ones, but they ended up producing a highly effective unit.



10 percent off D-Day Issue
5 February 2014, 18:07
Filed under: Band of Brothers, Magazines, Normandy, Veterans, WWII | Tags: ,

One of my favorite magazines, America in WWII, has offered 10% off their special D-Day issue if you order before February 10th. It’s a hundred pages of articles, photos, maps and other goodies to pique your interest. I’m thinking of buying several so I can give them as presents. You can go straight to the shopping cart, or read the blurb first, then put it in your cart. It will ship around March 6th, so you’ll have it in plenty of time for the 70th anniversary. If anyone is going to the sold out Band of Brothers Actors Reunion (which will also include WWII veterans) in Normandy and is willing to take one copy to get autographed for me personally (no, not for me to sell on Ebay), let me know and I’ll buy you your own as well as the one for autographs.



Fools charge ahead in Ephrata
24 July 2013, 19:36
Filed under: Band of Brothers, Veterans | Tags: , ,

WarHistoryOnline reports that despite knowledge that neither Dick Winters nor his family wanted a monument to the Major personally, other than the one he grudgingly allowed in Normandy (with the express intent of honoring all veterans instead of just the ones highlighted in Band of Brothers), the committee is charging ahead with their tourist attraction. Since there is nothing in writing and no legal prohibition against the artist soaking up $90,000 more of the money that could be used to help specific veterans in need, the football coach, his committee and the greedy hangers on will be putting up a duplicate of the monument in Normandy.

In seeking to honor veterans and one veteran in particular, they dishonor his memory by completely disregarding his wishes. By claiming that Winters “belongs to the American people”, they feel justified in taking his likeness and using it for their own commercial gain. I can’t imagine a way to tarnish the memory of a true American hero any more deeply. Dick Winters was not Mickey Mouse. Dick Winters was not Snooki, seeking the limelight. Dick Winters was not at all comfortable with people placing him separate from other veterans, who efforts were every bit as deserving of honor as his.

Go read the seminal post on the Myth of the Band of Brothers in Mark Bando’s forum for a re-awakening. Easy Company of the 506th was a wonderful company. Dick Winters was a marvelous officer. However, exalting either the Company or the Major over others that the general public simply doesn’t know about dishonors the memory of those men as well as the many others who are equally deserving.

It reminds me of the hobby monument in Gettysburg, of Thomas Lowry’s fraudulent Lincoln pardon and Joe McKinney’s destruction of the Brandy Station Foundation from inside. While I want knowledge of history to spread, there are people who simply do it wrong.



Ephrata: Taking from these men

In Band of Brothers, then-First Lieutenant Dick Winters admonishes Second Lieutenant Buck Compton, “Never put yourself in the position where you can take from these men.” My friend, Joe Muccia, who is a dedicated historian of “Easy” Company often reminds the rest of us of not only the movie quote, but the reality of Dick Winters feelings on the subject.

Some people just don’t get it. Among them seems to be author Larry Alexander, who, in speaking to the Ephrata Burough Council last month said,

“Winters was an American figure. Maybe they won’t be happy about it, but remember, he (Winters) approved the one in Normandy himself. Bob Hoffman was one of his closets friends who told me that if Ephrata does not do it, Hoffman will work to place it in Hershey. They don’t have the perfect place but would create one.” Ephrata Review

So, Mr Alexander, the organizers of the effort and the Borough Council were all aware right from the start that the family likely wouldn’t be happy with Dick Winters being used like a neon sign to attract tourists to Ephrata. They must not have cared, because they moved forward with the project. They’ve fallen back on canards like “the proposed statue was not a statue of Winters but of his likeness.”

War History Online was way ahead of me on getting the word out about this, but it is important that we spread the word further.

Lancaster Online published an editorial titled “The lion in Winters” which they expressed the hope that “Perhaps it is not too late to establish better communications between the volunteers and the family, and agree on some project that would satisfy both.”

I firmly support our veterans, but this effort is all about taking from the men for personal profit, regardless of their wishes or those of their family.



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.



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.




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