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


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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Weekend Wanderings: D-Day Weekend 2011

On the eve of the 67th anniversary of the landings in Normandy, I thought I would share some interesting D-Day links.

  • Patrick Elie has created D-Day: Etat de Lieux to not only commemorate D-Day itself, but also to act as a collection point for information on the ceremonies held each year. It is the most reliable site to find out which towns are holding events and when. After the events, Patrick adds photos to that year’s page to bring it to life.
  • There is a webcam in the Normandy American Cemetery. While it’s not the same as being there, it is still stunning. (0800-2030, Paris time, so 0200-1430 EST)
  • The Dead Man’s Corner museum website is one of the more modern historical websites and serves one of the better museums in Normandy. It’s also where I got to meet Bill Galbraith and Manny Barrios of I/3/506 during the 65th anniversary.
  • Mark Bando’s Trigger Time is a source of extensive information on American Airborne forces. Bando has written multiple books on the subject and leads tour as well.


The Beast of Omaha
4 May 2011, 19:21
Filed under: German Perspective, Normandy | Tags: ,

In reading Richard Hargreaves The Germans in Normandy to learn the German perspective on the Normandy invasion, I came across a passage that simply rattled me. After the bow ramps came down on the first boats landing in front of WN62 on Omaha Beach….

They jumped into the cold water up to their chests and shoulders. Some disappeared under the water for a moment, and half swimming, half wading, they began to move slowly on to the beach in front of our strongpoint. At this moment there was complete silence in the bay; not one shot was fired. We had strict orders to wait until the GIs were only about 400m from the edge of the beach and were wading in water up to their knees….

Once the Americans had firm ground under their feet, they waded in two long lines, one after the other, through the water, with the left hand firmly on the pack of the man in front. Everything was so calm, so organized, that you had the impression that they were merely carrying out an exercise.

The Americans struggled forward with their weapons and packs through the high surf of the cold sea, slowly and utterly unprotected. We were well aware that the GIs below us were being led like lambs to the slaughter.

Then the firing commenced and all hell broke loose. Heinrich Severloh, who wrote that passage above, fired thousands of rounds from a machine gun and hundreds from his rifle. While his own estimates of how many men he killed and wounded is nearly as many as the total American casualties on Omaha Beach, one can be certain that he witnessed and took part in an absolute horror.

By 1959, his story was known in the US and he was nicknamed, “The Beast of Omaha”. Terrible dreams afflicted him until his death in 2006.



Weekend Wanderings: Bataan Death March 69th Anniversary
10 April 2011, 11:30
Filed under: Leadership, Normandy, POWs, Veterans, Weekend Wanderings | Tags: , ,

One of the most tragic events for Americans in World War II unfolded 69 years ago. Approximately 75,000 Americans and Filipinos who had surrendered on Bataan were force-marched to prisoner of war camps. At least 6,000 to 11,000 never reached the camps. Another example of man’s inhumanity to man….



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.



Weekend Wanderings Conference Championship Weekend 2011
23 January 2011, 11:30
Filed under: Homefront, Veterans, Weekend Wanderings, WWII | Tags: , , ,

This weekend, the Jets and Steelers face off for the AFC championship, while the Packers and Bears have an old-school matchup for the NFC championship. Hopefully, nothing gets in the way of your chicken wings, ribs, burgers, cold beers and NFL watching. As always, I will be checking what Terry and Howie have to say, but first, here’s the most interesting stuff I’ve found this week….

  • New Zealand provided pilots to the RAF and one of their daughters posted up photos from her Dad’s service in 127 Squadron. Hopefully, she’ll post some of his journal entries.
  • Three veterans in New Jersey shared some stories with the Wyckoff Historical Society. There are several inaccuracies in the article, as it puts Saigon in Korea (it was probably a town that sounded the same instead of the capital of South Viet Nam) and vaguely refers to the Korean War starting “less than 10 years after World War II” instead of 5 years, but provides interesting little tidbits nonetheless. With World War II veterans dimishing in numbers every day, their stories drift away with them. Hopefully, we can record as many as possible, while also putting them in context with slightly more accurate historical knowledge….
  • One of the darkest chapters of American history is the internment of Japanese-Americans in World War II. A blogger writes about their own mother’s inability to talk about her internment and has an interview with one of the women was interned on video. If it doesn’t bring a tear to your eye, you must be made of stone….


Dick Winters passes
9 January 2011, 17:25
Filed under: 101st, Officers, Veterans | Tags: , ,

Sad news today. Of course, if you follow the obituaries, there seems to be sad news every day, as World War II veterans pass in the hundreds every day. Dick Winters was the most well-known living company commander from World War II and it is indeed sad that he is no longer with us. The men of Easy Company were lucky to have him and the rest of us were lucky to have his example to study and to follow. May he rest in peace.

Pennlive.com has a wonderful article about Winter’s passing and the most poignant part is about 11-year-old Jordan Brown, who’d been working to gather money for Tim Gray Media’s efforts to build a memorial to Major Winters:

“There’s no good way to tell your kid his hero has died,” Brown said. “But I told him he should take comfort in knowing Maj. Winters was happy with his efforts. In a way, [with his efforts] he’d joined the ‘Band of Brothers,’ too.”

Donald van den Bogert of the Para Research Team has put together a beautiful collection of photos and stories about Major Winters that I highly recommend.




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