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


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.



Do harsh environments produce strength?

When you visit a vineyard, especially in France, one of the shocking things is often how difficult and unforgiving the soil appears. Often, rocky, sloped hillsides that drain water like a sieve, lying exposed to the sun produce the grapes and, thus, the wines of greatest character. In Bordeaux, the sweet wines are the product of what winemakers call “noble rot”. In difficult environments, the skilled winemaker makes magnificent wines.

I recently attended the US Naval Institute’s Honors Night, at which it honors authors of articles and books published by the Naval Institute. I believe that it was in VADM Daley’s remarks that mention was made of the current fiscal situation and looming belt-tightening in the Navy. As I sat, I thought about the recent talk Dr. David Ulbrich gave in the Perspectives in Military History Lecture Series up in Carlisle (you can watch it), which is based on his book on Thomas Holcomb, Commandant of the Marine Corps in the lead up to WWII. Lean times in the Marine Corps, yet the source of many of the ideas that formed the framework of the wartime Marine Corps.

I think about Marine boot camp. It is not by gentle guidance that they turn civilians into Marines. It is by forcing them through the crucible that they produce a finely-honed blade.

So, while the money may be tight, I have faith that our military will dispense with nonsense and trivia, concentrate mental effort on the mission and produce the leaders and the guidelines that we will need moving forward.

Of course, it ain’t gonna be easy, but if anyone told you life was going to be easy, they were lying.



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



Whither Mark Clark?

I must admit to knowing very little about Mark Clark – so little that I learned some things by reading his wikipedia entry. That said, he has been characterized as somewhat distant and self-serving in some things that I’ve read – in particular for his efforts to sieze Rome in early June of 1944 against orders. He is also often criticized for Monte Cassino, Anzio and Salerno.

However, the reason I thought to mention him today is that I was utilizing a new Google tool. It’s their “Ngram” Viewer.

When you enter phrases into the Google Books Ngram Viewer, it displays a graph showing how those phrases have occurred in a corpus of books (e.g., “British English”, “English Fiction”, “French”) over the selected years.

I had entered a collection of officers just to see how they fared: Chesty Puller, Smedley Butler, George Patton, and Mark Clark. While Chesty Puller’s name has never appeared often, his legendary status among Marines always brings him into play. Smedley Butler is slowly fading as he becomes just another General from the past. However, the interesting part for me is how Clark spikes so much higher, including a second spike that is likely related to his Korean War service, but now seems to be slipping as Patton continuesd a steady ascent (though both have dropped in recent years).

Very interesting. I also checked Audie Murphy and John Basilone together.



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.



Captain Reginald Augustine answers his last tattoo
7 July 2011, 21:13
Filed under: Officers, Veterans, WWII | Tags: , ,

On occasion, I read the obituaries in the Washington Post and I always find someone interesting. The sad thing is, if they’re commemorated there, I’ll never get to meet them. Today’s obituary for Reginald Augustine made me wish that I had met him.

Augustine served as a Captain in the US Army at the end of World War II, racing around France and Germany, securing both scientists and nuclear materials. While searching a warehouse near Toulouse in southern France, Augustine found 31 tons that made the Geiger counter spike. He participated in Operation Epsilon, escorting several German physicists seized near Stuttgart to American territory. After the war, he had a career in operations for CIA, including time in Germany and a post in Saigon in 1968.

What makes Augustine truly interesting is his adventurous youth. After he garduated from Northwestern with a degree in Latin (minoring in German and studying Greek), he spent 16 months touring Europe on a Harley. That included ‘a Nazi party rally in Heidelberg that he later described as akin to a “Fourth of July” celebration with scarlet swastika banners and leather-booted storm troopers.’ While Augustine may not have been able to talk about his post-war career, I’m guessing there were a barrel of stories about traveling footloose and fancy-free in mid-1930s Europe. One wonders if he crossed paths with Hemingway.



De Gaulle’s Home
1 July 2011, 18:20
Filed under: Officers, WWII | Tags: ,

I am always interested in learning more about France. In particular, about small towns in France. In my wanderings, I came across a woman who had visited Charles De Gaulle’s adopted home, Colombey-les-deux-Eglises. Colombey is south west from Paris, near Chaumont.

De Gaulle is often thought of as so full of Gallic pride as to be arrogant. I find it interesting that he would choose such a small village and simply try to blend in as a normal villager. This is reinforced when one considers his gravesite, which is simple and humble.

When De Gaulle came ashore on the 14th of June, it rankled the Allies. There was great uncertainty about De Gaulle and, I suspect, Allied leadership wanted someone they could control more easily than De Gaulle. Actually, as French leaders had learned in the 1930s and the early days of the war, no one could control De Gaulle, except De Gaulle. By August, De Gaulle had moved from being only the leader of the Free French Forces to being the Chairman of the Provisional Government of the French Republic (gouvernement provisoire de la République française or GPRF). Seeing him march down the Champs Élysées on film on the 26th, while there were still snipers around (apparently right in Hotel de Crillon) with hordes of his countrymen around is simply stirring.

Perhaps it is fitting that a man often seen as the height of Gallic arrogance turns out to be just another small town boy.



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.



Henderson awarded Bronze Star with Valor
20 January 2011, 18:37
Filed under: Henderson, Leadership, Marines, Officers | Tags: ,

LTC Anthony Henderson USMCWhile it didn’t happen in World War II or Korea, I’d like to note that LTC Anthony Henderson (USMC) was awarded the Bronze Star with Valor for his leadership of 1st Battalion, 6th Regiment in the fight for Fort Jugroom near Garmsir in the Helmand province of Afghanistan.

The 19th century British fort “sits at a crossroads and along a river, letting those holding it dominate much of southern Helmand.” The Taliban had held off an attack by the Royal Marines in January of 2007. 15 months later, in April of 2008, the US Marines were on duty in Helmand, so 1/6 was tasked with clearing the fort. Henderson’s men fought a close quarters battle against 200-400 Taliban fighters, through tunnels, bunkers, minefields and buildings. As the Marines of 1/6 fought their way in, the Taliban attacked them from behind, making it a 360-degree battle. Chesty Puller might have said, “All right, they’re on our left, they’re on our right, they’re in front of us, they’re behind us…they can’t get away this time.” As darkness fell, Henderson knew that the heat would continue and that he’d best pull his men back to a defensive position. When they headed in the next morning, Fort Jugroom was empty, the Taliban having stolen away in the night, in hopes of living to fight another day.

In the tradition of Chesty Puller and Jim Gavin, Henderson took a hands-on approach to leadership. “My desire was to be as far forward as I could be without interfering with the small unit leader’s ability to fight his fight against the enemy.”

Gravesite of COL Richard Henry Henderson at Arlington CemeteryLieutenant Colonel Henderson was in a staff position with the Joint Chiefs in DC this fall. “It’s humbling and fulfilling to lead Marines,” reflected Henderson. “I have a constant yearning to be back there and amongst them.”

I mention LTC Henderson here for two reasons. First, he exemplifies the hands-on take-charge leader that characterized the World War II airborne officers I’m studying. Second, he shares my wife’s last name. I know, it might be silly, but every Henderson out there and every Navarre, as well, will be heralded here for their accomplishments. As such, every time Devery Henderson scores a touchdown for the New Orleans Saints, I say to wife, “How ’bout your cousin Devery!” I think my father-in-law, LTC Richard Henderson, would be justifiably proud of his Marine “cousin”.


So much to learn
11 January 2011, 19:20
Filed under: 509th, Edson Raff, Paratroopers | Tags: ,

I don’t know why it surprises me, but it seems every time I think I’ve learned something that no one knows about, I find a secondary source that at least mentions it. I’ve been reading Gerry Devlin’s seminal work, Paratrooper!, and it has been eye-opening. I thought it would be a good summary for someone who already knew a lot about paratroopers (thinking that I was that person), but instead, every chapter either exposes me to something new, or briefly describes an event I thought was so obscure that no one had written about it yet in a secondary source. The more I read, the more I know that I have so much to learn before I really know anything.

I thought I’d gotten a jump on Devlin in regards to the mission to blow up the El Djem bridge in Tunisia. I’d found information on it on the internet back in 2005 and have a link with some good details now (see 20 Dec 42), but was so disappointed when I read Devlin’s discussion of it. I wasn’t disappointed that he covered it briefly, but that I could have so easily learned about it by just buying Devlin’s book 6 years ago instead of scratching my head and wondering what Raff had done between Torch and Overlord.

So, I still have many books to buy and research to do, so that I don’t make myself look the fool by missing something that was obvious to someone else 50 years ago, yet unimportant to more modern scholars.




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