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


Top-ranking posts

Being the end of the year, I thought I’d look at some statistics and share them.

My top-ranking posts since I started this blog is dominated by one post, but the top 5 are all good posts:

Thanksgiving 1944         1,413

This got a huge number of hits due to being linked at Ace of Spades, thanks to our friends at Bring the Heat. On Thanksgiving of 1944, Eisenhower ordered that all soldiers have a turkey dinner. For airborne engineer John Carter, that provided a very humorous story that I was able to post the video of. I have some further videos of an interview with Carter and a couple of other stories. He’s quite a comedian.

Young Marine Passes         297

While the Marine Corps is made up of strong men, they also have strong hearts. A couple of times recently, they’ve made young men with terminal illnesses honorary Marines. The story of Cody Green and his honor guard, SGT Mark Dolfini, can’t help but move one to tears.

Denzel Washington at the Fisher House         236

Denzel Washington is among my favorite actors. He has great range and conveys the emotions of his characters very well. Some of his roles have been as military men and he’s gotten attached to the Fisher House. Fisher House Foundation is best known for a network of comfort homes where military and veterans’ families can stay at no cost while a loved one is receiving treatment. When Washington visited the Fisher House at Brooke Army Medical Center in 2004, his generosity launched an urban legend.

The Beast of Omaha         148

Heinrich Severloh was a German machine gunner at Omaha Beach and the horrors he helped inflict that day stayed in his dreams until his death in 2006.

The end of an era         136

For about a decade, Paul Woodadge built up a battlefield tour business in Normandy, expanding from a one-man operation, hiring several others to lead tours. Battlebus was the best tour company in Normandy and even had tours in Bastogne. Unfortunately, running a complex business and dealing with French tax and employment laws meant that Paul stopped being able to lead tours himself. While I lamented the end of an era, it meant that Paul could go back to doing what he loved. He also had time to publish Angels of Mercy: Two Screaming Eagle Medics in Angoville-au-Plain on D-Day (Normandy Combat Chronicles) (Volume 1)

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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.



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.




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