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


Iwo Jima Association Reunion 2015

The Iwo Jima Association of America is holding it’s 70th Reunion and Symposium on 18-22 February 2015 at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel. It’s always a magnificent event, with the opportunity to mix with Iwo Jima veterans, active duty and retired Marines, descendants and historians.

The base schedule is:

18 February – Registration (2-6pm) and welcome reception (6-8pm)

19 February – Ceremonies in DC/Arlington (8am-3:30pm) and a hospitality evening (6-8pm)

20 February – National Museum of the Marine Corps tour (8am-3:30pm) and Show & Tell (6-8pm)

21 February – Symposium and Panel Discussion (8:30am-3:30pm), Luncheon (noon-1pm, with a briefing by a senior Marine representative), reception (5-6pm, cash bar) and Banquet (6-11pm)

22 February – Farewells and departures

I can’t say enough about how well-run and well-attended this event is. As the touchstone event in the history of the Marine Corps, senior Marine leadership is actively in attendance and support. The Commandant will be the guest of honor at the Banquet and one of the top-level officers will speak at the luncheon. I have to admit that meeting and getting my photo with General Mattis two years ago was a true highlight. There are always several authors in attendance, selling and signing their books. They also usually have both a raffle and a silent auction to help support the organization. The band for the Banquet is our favorite big band, Radio King Orchestra, who do swing better than anyone else (and donate their time for this performance).

You MUST register by the 21st of January to ensure your space. After that, it is ‘space available’. Registration can be done online or by mail. In either case, best to download the event brochure, which details the schedule and provides the mail-in registration form.

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Successful Operation Dragoon Commemoration

U.S. Army World War II veterans of Operation Dragoon and Members of the Military District of Washington’s Sgt. Audie L. Murphy Club, the Society of the 3rd Infantry Division, and the military attaché to the French Embassy pose following a remembrance ceremony honoring the success of Operation Dragoon held Arlington, Va., July 21, 2012. DOD photo by U.S. Army Sgt. 1st Class Tyrone C. Marshall Jr.

The 68th Anniversary of Operation Dragoon Commemoration was covered by the American Forces Press Service this time. Due to the expectations of severe weather at the time for the ceremony in the amphitheater at Arlington National Cemetery, the Legion of Honor ceremony was instead held in the 16th floor ballroom of the Sheraton Pentagon City. John Singlaub, Paul Donlon, Darryl Egner, Elias Hernandez, Michael Halik and the son of Stanley Siemrzuch were all presented with the esteemed French medal by COL Brice Houdet, the French military attaché. The ballroom was filled with conference attendees, family members, staff from the French embassy and a number of active duty members of the Military District of Washington’s Sgt. Audie L. Murphy Club.

As always, the event was tremendously educational, allowing historians and veterans the opportunity to educate each other and the audience on this less well-known operation.



Korean War Commemoration, 27 July 2012
6 July 2012, 09:15
Filed under: Korea, Veterans | Tags: , ,

On the Korean War Armistice Day 2012, the Department of Defense will hold a commemoration ceremony at Arlington National Cemetery’s Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, starting at 9:00am. This event is open to the public and kicks off with a wreath-laying ceremony and keynote remarks by Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta. To RSVP for this, go to http://koreanwar.defense.gov/july27rsvp.html There are buses available for veterans from a number of locations, as far away as Baltimore, Annapolis and Richmond. There will also be a local shuttle for those wishing to drive and park at the Navy Annex.

Additionally, in the evening, Korea’s Ministry of Patriots and Veterans Affairs is hosting a banquet in honor of Korean War Veterans at the Sheraton Pentagon City Hotel (which is actually across the highway from Pentagon City mall) starting at 5pm. To RSVP for that, contact Monika Stoy via email at monikastoy@yahoo.com or phone 703-912-4218 or 571-419-8915 by July 13th.



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.



Dragoon 2011 Commemoration/Seminar schedule

I have some more details on the Operation Dragoon Commemoration and Seminar being held next weekend (4-7 August 2011). While I do not yet have the list of speakers, I can reveal the schedule. Most of the seminars will be held on the 4th and 5th, with the wreath-laying and banquet on the 6th.

The banquet has always been pretty special, as veterans who’ve had a chance to get reacquianted have an opportunity and enough comfort with the audience to provide very interesting recollections of the war, such as John Carter’s Thanksgiving 1944 story.

At the wreath-laying, the French Legion of Honor will be presented to Lieutenant General (ret.) Seitz (517th ABN), Mr. John Keller (3rd ID), Mr. John Carter (1st Allied Airborne Task Force), and Mr. Roy Brumfield (3rd ID). LTG Seitz was the battalion commander of 2/517 PIR during the war and I read an interesting story about the interview process for new soldiers joining 2/517 as they formed that I detailed in a post this past winter.

LTG Seitz at the 517th reunion in 2005

There is ample time on Friday and Saturday for some oral interviews and I’ll be trying to sit with both Mr. Carter and LTG Seitz. Of course, I haven’t had a chance to really talk to any 509th veterans at length yet and Jim Welsh of the 551st PIB would be a great interview as well. So, all kinds of opportunities. If you’re interested in conducting some interviews, you’re more than welcome to come.

4 August (Thursday) – Check-in to the Sheraton National Hotel, 900 South Orme St. Arlington, VA 22204

1500-1700    Registration

1700-1830    Dinner (no host)

1830-2030    Opening Remarks and initial historical seminar

5 August (Friday)

0830-1200     Historical Seminar Session 2

1200-1330     Lunch (no host)

1330-1700     Historical Seminar Session 3

1700-1830     Dinner (no host)

1830-2030     Operation Dragoon historical/documentary films

6 August (Saturday)

0900-1000     Commemorative Ceremony Memorial Amphitheater (Mil: ASU, Civ: Business Attire)

1015-1100     Wreath laying ceremonies – Tomb of the Unknowns, 3rd Infantry Division Monument, Audie Murphy gravesite

1130-1730     Lunch (no host) and free time

1730-2000     Banquet (Mil: Dress, Civ: Business Attire)

7 August (Sunday)

0900-1100     Concluding historical seminar/closing remarks

Special Honored Guests: Mr. Robert D. Maxwell, 3rd Infantry Division Medal of Honor Recipient in WWII and Operation Dragoon veteran and Mayor Michel Tonon, Mayor of Salon-de-Provence, France. More about T5 Maxwell and his Medal of Honor next week.

You can also email CPT Monika Stoy for further information.



30 June 1998, Viet Nam Unknown Identified

Back in 1998, they identified the Viet Nam unknown soldier buried in Arlington National Cemetery.

In 1994, Ted Sampley, a POW/MIA activist, determined that the remains of the Vietnam Unknown were likely those of Air Force 1st Lt. Michael Joseph Blassie, who was shot down near An Loc, Vietnam, in 1972. Sampley published an article in his newsletter and contacted Blassie’s family, who attempted to pursue the case with the Air Force’s casualty office without result. In January 1998 CBS News broadcast a report based on Sampley’s investigation which brought political pressure to support the identification of the remains. Blassie’s body was exhumed on May 14, 1998. Based on mitochondrial DNA testing, Department of Defense scientists confirmed the remains were those of Blassie. The identification was announced on June 30, 1998 and on July 10, Blassie’s remains arrived home to his family in St. Louis, Missouri; he was reinterred at Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery on July 11.

Also buried in Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery are Easy Company commander 1LT Thomas Meehan, 16 of his men, and the flight crew of their C-47.




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