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


Veterans announced for 6th Army Group

I met with Tim & Monika to review things in preparation for the 70th Anniversary Commemoration of the 6th Army Group in France, which will be held 30 July to 3 August, 2014. As part of the review, I’m able to announce the 14 expected veteran attendees. Yes, FOURTEEN World War II veterans expected.

6th Army Group veterans in attendance will be:

28th Infantry Division: Sam Ieronimo and Robert Phillips
45th Infantry Division: Robert Jackson
517th PRCT: LTG David Grange
36th Infantry Division: Donald Judd and Boyd Lewis (both 142nd Infantry Regiment)
3rd Infantry Division: MG Lloyd Ramsey, Michael Halik, Charles Phallen, Charles Condron, John Keller, John Miller II

We’ll also have two other WWII veterans who’ve attended a number of our prior events: COL John Kormann and COL Frank Cohn.

Our attendance numbers are looking very good, with perhaps 80-90 people participating.

We have confirmed that COL Paul Guajac, a retired French Army Colonel and historian of WWII, is coming from France to speak at the conference. His two best known works are Dragoon, August 15, 1944: The Other Invasion of France and Special Forces in the Invasion of France (Special Operations Series). I will be bringing my copies for signatures.



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.



Reunion Report: Anzio 69th Anniversary

8 WWII veterans, seatedAs I’d mentioned, I was able to attend the reunion of the Anzio Beachhead Veterans over the past few days, and it was a wonderful experience. Having helped with the Operation Dragoon and Colmar Pocket events, I was already familiar with the logistics of wreath-laying at the Tomb of the Unknown, so I was able to be more helpful than I’d expected.

One of the first things we did on arriving at the Amphitheatre was to visit Audie Murphy’s gravesite, which is right across the street. We were able to get the four veterans who would be in the wreath-laying grouped around Murphy’s headstone for photos. There were a dozen or so other visitors who happened along at the same time and our veterans got a wonderful experience of being “rock stars” with gratitude from everyone and requests for photos. It was a wonderfully heart-warming experience for me, seeing these men thanked and seeing the tourists get such a treat – to meet men who served with Murphy when visiting his gravesite.

I was able to bring along my own M1 Garand to the banquet and in this photo, you can see George holding what they all remembered as having been a far lighter weapon 69 years ago. George had enlisted in the Army and been assigned to the 9th Cavalry Regiment. Yes, George was a Buffalo Soldier, but when the Regiment reached North Africa, it wasn’t long before the Army decided to break up the unit. George ended up as a Sergeant in the 401st Port Company, unloading ships at the Anzio beachhead among many other places. He ended up making a career of the Army, retiring in 1967 as a Major, having served 24 years.

To George’s right is Billie Stone of the 39th Combat Engineers. Billie’s unit was, like George’s, not organically part of a specific larger unit, so they moved wherever the engineering work, or at times, the need for riflemen, was found.

Louis Kinofsky, C Company, 133rd Regiment, 34th Infantry Division, asked at the banquet when I handed him the M1 if he was going to get to take it home. Fortunately, he has one of his own there, so I get to keep mine. He had a lot of interesting stories, suggesting that when I read certain veteran memoirs, I take things with a very large grain of salt.

I sat with Frank and his wife at dinner and he related that despite this being the 34th reunion held by the Anzio veterans, it was the first he’d attended. Shortly after the war, He’d been to a few reunions of his unit, but since they’d always been held in the same location, after a few years, numbers dwindled as people hadn’t wanted to always visit the same place.

Ralph Joe Reid also served in the 34th Infantry Division, having arrived as a replacement before the Battle of Monte Cassino. When I sat talking to Joe on Thursday night, we talked about the aftermath of that battle. When his company was relieved by an Indian unit (I guessed Gurhkas, but am not sure), Joe, 13 other men and Captain Garfield were all that were left of his company. He also heaped praise on the 3rd Infantry Division, as the 34th replaced the 3rd and enjoyed their well-constructed foxholes in the Anzio perimeter. Joe said it was like living in the Sheraton after having only piles of rocks as protection at Cassino.

Current President of the organization, Ed Benezech, was a field artilleryman in the 141st Field Artillery Battalion, but when I had him pose with the M1 for photos in front of the organization, he went through an impromptu manual of arms. He’d drilled men with the rifle enough times that he felt completely comfortable with it.

John Boller, second from the left, is a former President of the group and it was through John’s notices in the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division newsletter, Watch on the Rhine, that I’d learned about the reunion. Without John, I’d have never known about it. His service with the 3rd ID during the war has continued in these decades since, and, as I said, seeing John explain to those tourists that he’d served with Murphy (though not known him personally) is a memory I’m sure they will treasure, as I know I will.

Among the issues discussed over the weekend was the continuing existence of the organization. With so few veterans still living, these organizations are turning to the children and grandchildren of the veterans. The organization’s modern website was designed by Bob Rickmeyer and we were joined by Barb Bossi and her brother, who have started work on a Anzio Families website that everyone will work to integrate into the existing setup. Hopefully, the energy of everyone can be harnessed for a grand reunion down in Orlando to celebrate the 70th anniversary next year.

At the far left of the photo is Louis Amato, who’d served as a medic in the 45th Infantry Division and then continued serving as a medic in POW camps after he’d been captured. Like most of these men, he’s quite a spark plug, the energy and humor bursting from him.

As I attend these reunions and meet these men, I am always struck by the obvious bonds they have for each other. While none of them knew each other during the war and some hadn’t met the others even before this event, they’d all been the same places and seen the same dangers. In the years since, those experienced shaped them, but when they have the chance to be around others who understand, it’s always good. Sitting with them and talking, knowing some of the context or being able to let them handle their weapons or uniforms from the war brings them to a comfort level where, as Joe said to me Thursday night, they can talk about things they’ve not spoken of for 69 years. Sometimes, their eyes light up and they speak with great animation about their comrades and the good times, or they pause, remembering those who never came home.

At a dinner party once, a woman asked me how I could devote so much study to something so terrible as war. For me, it’s the stories about people. While I enjoy studying the campaigns and knowing which units went where, the truly compelling thing is the people. War brings out extremes of the human condition – men doing terrible things and men doing completely selfless things.

“It is well that war is so terrible — lest we should grow too fond of it.”



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.



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.



Colmar Pocket Seminar

From the energetic folks who put on the annual Operation Dragoon Commemoration, this year they will hold a Battle of the Colmar Pocket Commemoration and Seminar. There will be a number of Colmar Pocket veterans attending, including GEN (ret.) Frederick J. Kroesen who will discuss his experience as a platoon leader and company commander in the 254th Infantry Regiment during the battle, and MG (ret.) Lloyd B. Ramsey who served as 3/7th Infantry Regiment battalion commander. They have invited veterans of the 3rd Infantry Division, 28th ID, 36th ID, 75th ID, 12th AD of the XXIst Corps of the US Army and the First French Army.

The event is open to the public, with a $30 registration fee (waived for Colmar Pocket veterans, of course).  It will be held at the Hyatt Arlington (1325 Wilson Boulevard, Arlington, VA 22209) and provide ample opportunities to interact with the veterans as well as for oral history during the sessions. The schedule is as follows:

3 December 2010

1300 — 1600   Registration (fee $30)

1800 — 2030   Seminar

 4 December 2010

0900 — 1130    Seminar

1130 — 1300    Lunch (OWN)

1300 — en route to Arlington National Cemetery

1400 — Memorial Service at Amphitheater

1515 — Wreath laying at Tomb of the Unknowns

1830 — Banquet ($35)

5 December 2010

0900–1100     Seminar — Closing session

For further info, contact Monika Stoy, President, Association of the 3rd Infantry Division, Outpost Europe

monikastoy@yahoo.com, PH: 001 703 912 4218




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