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


Weekend Wanderings, Early October 2011

I was a Scoutmaster for 14 years and one of my Eagle Scouts had joined the Marines. He spent some time outside of Ramadi and is now medically retired from the Marine Corps. We’re celebrating his service this weekend (if only I could find a Marine NCO sword – they’re back-ordered everywhere!), but he’s some good links to share:



Weekend Wanderings, 9 July 2011

As the weather gets hot, one can always sit in a cool air-conditioned room and revel in the vast expanse of knowledge that sits out there on the Internet, begging to be found. Here are a few tibdits I found this week that interested me.

  • Barbara Whitaker blogged about her father-in-law’s servicein the 276th Armored Field Artillery Battalion, seeing action during the Bulge, crossing the Rhine and within Germany.

    Barb's Father-in-Law's M7

  • Beanandgone is a humorous blog by a young Australian woman who loves her coffee and her travels. She was recently in Berlin and notes some of the funny things as well as some of the horrifying ones.
  • As a historian, I tend to visit a fair number of museums when I travel and it sounds like we all ought to visit the National World War II Museum. The even have an annual Family Overnight (yes, it was last night, so you missed it this year!) The capstone, however, appears to be the Victory Theatre’s “Beyond the Boundaries”.
  • Courtesy of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, you can also move around inside The Secret Annex and experience The Diary of Anne Frank in a completely different way – virtually in 3D, with stories and videos. Hat tip to musingmk for these two.
  • I finished reading Wukovitz’ book on Boyington today and thought a fair amount about Afroxander’s blog entry on Hemingway’s suicide. In reading Hemingway as a young man, I wanted to be him. To have grand adventures, to cheat death, to drink “manly” drinks and to truly “sieze the day”. With Boyington, his alcoholism was fueled by doubt and discomfort. With Hemingway, I wonder if it was all just from boredom. Perhaps he just kept searching for elusive happiness in bigger and bolder things until he finally despaired. I’ll be honest, if a bit brutal, but the Hemingway who zipped around France during WWII strikes me as a comical figure, trying to act the part of a war hero while others actually fought it. Kind of like John Wayne’s and Humphrey Bogart’s experience on USO Tours – the tough guys were the ones in the audience, not the ones on stage, but at least Wayne and Bogart realized that.


Bulge Sniper Reloads

When he arrived in Europe as a replacement, Ted Gundy was handed a sniper rifle because he’d scored the highest in his company during training. Today, sniper selection and training is far more complex and involved, but, truth be told, Ted Gundy would likely be a sniper if he enlisted today. Given a replica of his old rifle and 65 years later, Gundy showed he is still a marksman.

Today, Gundy’s gait might be uncertain, his hands shaky and his hearing electronically enhanced (but not always quite enough), but when he settled behind “his” 03 Springfield A4 sniper rifle, none of that mattered.

From a basic rest, he proceeded to make hits on a silhouette target -at 300 yards. Each one was better than the previous, with the final round landing dead center.  Shooting Wire, February 8, 2010

I think this was passed to me the reenactors I know, but I’ve lost the original email, so can’t tell you which one passed it along. Gundy watches Shooting USA on TV and had emailed them about the long-range shots modern snipers make. When they realized they had a sniper from the Battle of the Bulge, they coordinated with the Army Marksmanship Unit (established back in 1956 by Eisenhower) to grant Gundy a chance to make a 1000-yard shot himself. It made for marvelous television.



Weekend Wanderings: Sweet 16 Weekend 2011

Ah, the joys of the NCAA tournament continue. My own university bowed out in the first round, but I always enjoy watching the underdogs have a shot. Richmond and VCU were both underdogs and both from nearby Richmond, Virginia, so I was hoping for them to both win and face each other for a chance at the Final Four. Fortunately, VCU won their game, so I’m watching them push Kansas right now.



Information gathering in progress
7 March 2011, 09:14
Filed under: Bizory monument | Tags: , , ,

I’ve had a small breakthrough in my quest to learn more of what happened at Bizory and what the status is, but it has mostly prompted more questions for me and created a list of people I need to reach out for more information. I’m also going to be tasking a friend who lives in Luxembourg but isn’t involved in historical research or tours to visit the monument to get a photo, as there is no clarity yet on whether the damage persists or not.



Weekend Wanderings After President’s Day 2011
27 February 2011, 11:30
Filed under: Weekend Wanderings | Tags: ,

I missed posting a ‘Wanderings’ last weekend. I had to run down to the wine shop to help fix computer problems on Saturday, so got nothing done. Fortunately, I’ve been keeping my eyes open.

  • Chris Kolditz forwarded along a link to an article about Augusta Chiwy, an African nurse who tended to wounded in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge.
  • Pitchers and catchers reported to spring training and Tom Boswell had a good column on the excitement from the perspective of the rookies.


Weekend Wanderings Wildcard Weekend 2011
9 January 2011, 11:30
Filed under: 101st, Leadership, Weekend Wanderings | Tags: , ,

For those who aren’t adherents of American Rules Football, this is the first weekend of our playoffs, known as “Wildcard Weekend”, since the teams that made the playoffs as “wild cards” without wining their divisions, made it into the playoffs.



Du kannst zum Teufel gehen
23 December 2010, 15:35
Filed under: 101st, 327th, 401st, Battle of the Bulge, Medics | Tags: ,

A few years ago, while I was looking for information of Joseph H. “Bud” Harper, I found an interview in the St Petersburg Times of Ernie Premetz. During the Battle of the Bulge, Harper commanded the 327th Glider Infantry Regiment and when the Germans came to demand the surrender of Bastogne, they came into the 327th’s sector.

Everyone knows the basics of the story, about “Nuts”, but Ernie Premetz can say “I know what happened. I was there.” You see, Ernie was a medic at the time, and, based on his post-war profession, marine biologist, probably one of the smarter men standing in the snow on the 22nd of December. Ernie also spoke German, so when the two German officers and two German enlisted men approached American lines, Premetz walked out with a sergeant to find out what they wanted. After GEN McAuliffe responded “To the German Commander, NUTS!, The American Commander”, Harper was accompanied by Premetz to deliver the note to the Germans.

Needless to say, the Germans couldn’t quite figure out what it meant. To quote from Jeanne Malmgren’s interview with Premetz….

Harper and Premetz discussed how else to convey the message.

“You can tell them to take a flying s—,” Harper said to Premetz.

Premetz thought a minute. He knew he had to be clear.

He straightened up and faced the Germans.

“Du kannst zum Teufel gehen,” he said.

You can go to hell.

Those boys had some brass ones. If you talk to any veteran who was in Bastogne, Patton didn’t rescue them in Bastogne. They had the enemy right where they wanted them.

The Germans’ faces darkened.

“We will kill many Americans,” one of the officers said in English.

“We will kill many Germans,” Harper responded.



Replacement Medic heads into the Bulge
21 December 2010, 22:38
Filed under: 501st, Battle of the Bulge, Medics, Veterans | Tags: , ,

Being in the Battle of the Bulge was not easy. Being a paratrooper was not easy. Being a medic was not easy. Being a replacement was not easy. On 19 December 1944, Leon “Jed” Jedziniak, had all four of those challenges as a replacement medic in the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, going into his first fight. Eric Bradley wrote a great article about Jed in the Dialy Breeze out in Torrance, CA.

You tell people the story, Jedziniak said, and they don’t seem to understand.

That worries me. I know I’ll never quite understand because I’ve never been there, but as a military historian, I work to get as many of the stories as I can, in hopes that we can begin to understand.



Weekend Wanderings

I’m going to start accumulating the “best of the blogs” that I read each week and post them on Sunday for people to read.




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