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


Change to Dragoon/Colmar Schedule

There’s been a big change for the Dragoon/Colmar event this week. On Friday morning, we’ll be attending the Spirit of America show at George Mason University instead of conducting the third historical seminar session. That third session will now occur from 2-6pm that day.

18 Sept: 9 AM to 1:30 PM Spirit of American show at George Mason University
2 PM to 6PM Historical seminar III

Full schedule available on the 6th Army Group website

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Everyone has a story: Conference Opens
30 July 2014, 20:56
Filed under: Colmar Pocket, Operation Dragoon

Everyone has a story. Once again, we’re gathered together with the veterans of Operation Dragoon and the Battle of the Colmar Pocket. Monika started the conference by talking about the grand variety of stories that belong in this story. From the artilleryman who was confined to quarters after doing KP duty too close to the Generals discussing the invasion of southern France to the men who jumped into Provence or stormed the beaches, to the folks who fought the war on the farms and in the factories during the war, everyone has a story.

This week, starting with 2 hours tonight, we’ll be covering as many of those stories as we can get to. With 2 hours tonight and 8 hours on Thursday (9am-5pm) at the Sheraton Pentagon City, we should cover a lot of ground. Friday morning, we’ll be at Arlington National Cemetery for wreath-laying at both the Tomb of the Unkown as well as the 3rd Infantry Division monument. Saturday, we’ll spend the day visiting the SS John W. Brown up in the Baltimore (with a stop at Fort McHenry) before our closing banquet back here in Arlington.

I’m especially excited to meet Boyd Lewis and and Donald Judd, who were squad mates in D Company, 142nd Infantry Regiment, 36th Infantry Division. I also revealed to everyone that my father’s uncle Roy served in the 15th Infantry Regiment’s Headquarters & Headquarters Company as part of the 3rd Infantry Division.

It’s a jam-packed week with 14 WWII veterans, numerous family members, several historians and your humble scribe.



Five Years, Four Fronts

BGEN Theodore Mataxis was asked to write a foreword for Georg Grossjohann’s “Five Years, Four Fronts” and nearly turned it down. He felt he’d have little in common with the Major. They hadn’t fought in the same battles and their careers hadn’t been similar.

However, because of my keen interest in and bias in favor of “eyeball accounts” by combat participants, I finally agreed to read the draft manuscript. At worst, I thought, it would confirm my doubts, and I would simply have to decline the opportunity to pen the requested foreword. The more I read, though, the more engrossed and intrigued I became. I found this was not just another war story of campaigns during WWII, but the author’s detailed account of his experience at small-unit level during peace, mobilization and war.

Mataxis truly enjoyed the book and his foreword becomes an enthusiastic endorsement of the work. Grossjohann rose from the enlisted ranks to Major while fighting in the aforementioned four fronts, including fighting in Operation Dragoon and the Colmar Pocket, finishing as a regimental commander in mid-January of 1945.

The more I read, the more I realized that I did, in fact, have much in common with Grossjohann, although not just from the war in which we shared only a common theater of operations. Later in my Army service, I served as executive officer for – and then commanded – an infantry regiment in the Korean War and served four tours in Southeast Asia during the Vietnam War. Altogether, I spent about five years in combat, as did Grossjohann. Although I gradually recognized that we had a lot in common in other ways, it was in these combat tours that I acquired the “mindset” which I think is what most closely links George Grossjohann and me across space and time – the critical importance of “bonding” in combat, and the soldier’s warrior ethos. That is what transcends our different nationalities, causes and theaters of war. Neither of us had much time for fripperies or superficialities. The trappings of things militaristic or the transient fads of the moment – be they the transparent nonsense of National Socialism for Grossjohann, the trumped-up bodycount game of my Vietnam tourss, the “Zero Defects” philosophy of my last years of service, or the “Consideration for Others” claptrap of today’s Army, none of them held or would have held the slightest interest for either of us. Indeed, because such things often get in the way of more important endeavors (training, learning, fighting), we despised them and ignored them when we could. The author’s unconcealed loathing of equivocation, moral cowardice, professional vanity, and selfishness among some of his fellow officers – the same kind of things scorned by Anton Myrer’s archetype of the Good Office, Sam Damon in “Once an Eagle” – struck a sympathetic chord with me. Been there, seen that – far too much of it! Take the time to perceive the author’s unabashed esteem for those – of all ranks – who exhibited anything approaching the unspoken passion the author had for soldiering, and you’ll discover the frank admiration of a kindred soul. All good soldiers can identify with the warrior ethos that is the basic cornerstone of espirit and high morale.

He finished with truly high praise.

If I ever get around to writing my memoirs, although they will be mostly about other wars and other times, I hope I can tell my story with as much honesty, class, and plain truth as this one.

Unfortunately, the final seven years of his life after penning this foreword appear not to have allowed Mataxis time and energy to write those memoirs, but I suspect reading Grossjohann’s work will give us the sense of what it would have been like.



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.



Program for 2013 Colmar Pocket Commemoration and Seminar

69 years after the vicious fighting in eastern France, Outpost Europe of the Society of the Third Infantry Division and the Embassy of France will again host a Battle of the Colmar Pocket Commemoration and Seminar, on 5-8 December 2013 at the Sheraton National Hotel in Arlington Virginia. This event honors the divisions and veterans of the Battle of the Colmar Pocket, in which Audie Murphy, Charles P. Murray, Ellis Weicht, Bernard Bell, Keith L. Ware, Gus Kefort, Eli Whiteley, Russell Dunham, Forrest Peden, and Jose Valdez received the Medal of Honor. Also among the goals is to educate the public about this little remembered front known as the second Battle of the Bulge.

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: 5-8 December 2013 (Thursday-Sunday)

5 December: 2 to 4 PM – Registration ($35); 5 to 8 PM – Reception and Seminar Session I
6 December: 8 AM to 5 pM – Seminar Session II and a historical visit (breaks for lunch & dinner on your own); 6 PM to 8 PM Seminar Session III & Documentary Film Presentation
7 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 ($40)
8 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.

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 – $95 per night, two days prior to event and one day after. Reservations: 1-888-627-8210
Reservation Group Name: Colmar Pocket, Cutoff date 26 November
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

Note that there is no limit on number of attendees, so even if you do not get an immediate confirmation, there WILL be space for you at the event. Make your travel plans and we will ensure everything works out.

REGISTRATION: Event registration – $35. Banquet – $40. (Free for Colmar Pocket Vets)

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



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.



Doing what you love…
20 December 2011, 19:12
Filed under: Colmar Pocket

After the regular sessions for the day were finished on Friday, I turned to “my cameraman”, CPL Alex Apple, USMC, and asked, “How long have we been here?” We’d started at 0900 and it was almost 1800 at the time. It seemed like forever, though in an entirely enjoyable way. We’d started the conference Thursday evening and been at it all day. I couldn’t remember what the weather was like outside or what it was like doing my normal job. Being involved in these conferences is so immersive that it is difficult to remember having done anything else when the weekend ends. I’ve experienced that every time I’ve gone to France and on a number of other get-aways, but these events do it like nothing else. My executive coach has told me that I need to find a way to take the passion that I have for history and find a way to make that my career instead of my hobby. I couldn’t agree more.

 




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