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


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.



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.



Weekend Wanderings New Years 2011
2 January 2011, 11:30
Filed under: Homefront, Leadership, Marines, Navy, Weekend Wanderings | Tags: , , ,

My lament about a lack of posts on Christmas at war was pre-mature. I just hadn’t wandered far enough to see them!



Front-line lessons
6 December 2010, 18:55
Filed under: Leadership, Officers, Veterans | Tags: , , , ,

At the Colmar Pocket seminar, GEN Fred Kroesen spoke about his experience as junior officer during World War II. He spoke at length about the fighting, relating that he started as the weapons platoon commander, but as each other platoon commander was wounded (oddly, each was wounded while standing next to Kroesen), his role expanded. He almost got to give back command of the 3rd platoon, but as he was bringing up that Lieutenant (who’d recovered from his wounds), that Lieutenant got wounded again. After a short R&R trip to Paris, he returned to take command of the company, as the only other officer left standing had been promoted to battalion XO.

He related two major lessons: trust your junior officers and war is a collective effort.

When I was a Scoutmaster, I relied on those two lessons.

Tell the junior leaders what needs to get done and get out of their way. If you’ve trained them properly, they’ll get it right. I knew that if the boys who held the leadership positions didn’t make the decisions, they would never learn to be leaders themselves, and, quite frankly, they’d get bored and quit. As the General says, the man (or boy) on the ground is going to have the best handle on what’s happening there and how to handle it. If you step and tell him how-to-do-it instead of just what-to-do, he’s going to expect you to always tell him how-to-do-it. Then, when you’re not around, which is certain to happen, he’s likely to do nothing or do the wrong thing. You have to give him the training, provide some direction and observe. Of course, good followup – perhaps with after-action reviews – can provide further insight, using each action as a training opportunity.

The General relates that war is a collective effort and it surely is. Highly motivated soldiers (or Boy Scouts) working together accomplish far more than a handful of heros acting individually. Team effort is actually a force-multiplier. Those leaders who can get everyone on the same page, working together, accomplish far more than any other leader. When I worked in a warehouse after I got out of college, the plant manager was able to get everyone very motivated for about four months. We all felt part of the team and we truly produced. Somehow, he let us lose that feeling and the productivity simply disappeared. He’d gotten it right, but lost sight of his methods, failing to treat us like members of a team and… everyone realized how they were being treated and responded accordingly. I see it all the time at competitive events in Scouting those that work together win, regardless of how talented individuals in other groups might be.

At the seminar, I met a couple of active duty Generals. I don’t think you can find two more motivated, sincere leaders of men than Major General Randall Marchi (28th ID) and Major General Eldon Regua (75th ID). I had an opportunity to talk with each of them for a few minutes and they each expressed how honored they were to meet and show their respect for the veterans of World War II. Those veterans are truly a treasure and I urge everyone to take full opportunity to meet them and to listen and learn. They are a treasured resource that is disappearing far too fast.



You want tough? Try 2/517’s interview process

I attended the local gun show recently and ran across a great book-dealer, Jack Long (jacklong1945@verizon.net), who had a great batch of books on display. I really lucked out, scoring a 50th Anniversary copy of Edson Raff’s We Jumped to Fight, Ralph Ingersoll’s The Battle is the Payoff, Gerald Devlin’s Paratrooper, and Bob Bowen’s Fighting with the Screaming Eagles (on 1/401 GIR). However, I started by reading Gerald Astor’s Battling Buzzards, since I’ve met several men who served in the 517th PIR. It’s quite a book.

Last year, one of the veterans at the Operation Dragoon commemoration was none other than the CO of 2/517, Richard Seitz. Never having read anything about the 517th before that event, I had no idea who he was. His posting as battalion commander of 2/517 a few days before his 25th birthday made him one of the youngest battalion commanders during the war. The trust that COL Lou Walsh had in his abilities was proven wise during the Battle of the Bulge, as Task Force Seitz helped clear the way into St.Vith. Years later, Seitz rose to command the 82nd Airborne Division, retiring as a Lieutenant General in 1975. If you look at the Airborne battalion and regimental commanders in World War II, you can find a cadre that built and maintained our Airborne and Special Forces troops for the next thirty years. I’ve been considering writing a volume akin to D.S. Freeman’s Lee’s Lieutenants covering all of these men – perhaps Ridgway’s Lieutenants….

Well, the 517th had started at Camp Toccoa, like the more famous 506th, with new recruits getting their basic training within the regiment. Like every other regiment at Toccoa, training was tremendously difficult and wash-outs were common. Despite this, Colonel Walsh was a picky man. Every potential member of the regiment was interviewed before joining the regiment to determine whether they belonged. One of Seitz’s interview questions (though not given to every candidate) was “Can you put your first through that wall?”



Thanksgiving 1944
25 November 2010, 10:09
Filed under: 517th, Operation Dragoon, Paratroopers, Veterans | Tags: , , ,

As I sit here in my living room, on the couch, with the puppy snuggling next to my hip, the rain outside doesn’t affect us. Of course, for the men in the airborne in 1944, Thanksgiving wasn’t necessarily so comfortable. At the Operation Dragoon event this August, I met John Carter, who served in an Airborne Engineering Company and an Airborne Signals Company. John Carter was attached to the 517th Parachute Infantry Regiment and, for Thanksgiving 1944, situated along the Italian border, protecting the right flank of the 6th Army Group as it marched north.

On November 23, 1944, this Thanksgiving message from General Eisenhower was broadcast  on the home front.

In this great war theater millions of America’s fighting men and their Allies are, by their courage, endurance and suffering, making daily headway against a fanatical enemy. They are surmounting unbelievable hardships and obstacles to insure to all of us the future right to live as free people. Mud, bitter cold, bullets and minefields cannot stop them if they are plentifully supplied and supported from the homeland. They need myriads of shells and tires and blankets and guns and planes – a thousand things to enable them to keep up the incessant pressure. These they must get from the money you lend to the government.

Another thing – they are entitled to the constant assurance of your understanding, of your resolution, and of your unflagging zeal in the cause for which they are offering their lives. To keep faith with them none of us can permit our minds and hearts to stray for a single second from the great task we have before us. In the current war bond drive, you once again have special opportunity to give these men the things they require and by so doing, reassure them and the whole world that the United States is a single, determined unit in working and fighting for complete victory.

There is just one way to gain the peace we want; each of us must work with ever increasing devotion and effectiveness up to the day the enemy capitulates.

We here – all of us – count upon you to over-subscribe the war loan and then to transform the money quickly into vital fighting equipment. It is needed, now.

Eisenhower also apparently decreed that every serviceman in the European Theater of Operations have turkey for Thanksgiving dinner. John Carter had volunteered for the Army. John Carter had volunteered for the Airborne. On Thanksgiving 1944, John volunteered to cook a Thanksgiving turkey on the front lines….

John’s wife, Fran, who is quite the pistol, says that John is allowed to cook at home despite the adventure of his 1944 Thanksgiving turkey. Fran built B-29s in Birmingham, Alabama, while John fought the Germans across France. After the war, they married and became professors at Samford University in Birmingham. In 1998, on the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, Fran founded the American Rosie the Riveter Association. There’s a great article about them in American Profile magazine.

On this Thanksgiving, I’d like to give thanks to John and Fran Carter, as well as the rest of the Greatest Generation, for their efforts. The spirit that they embody lives today in our service men and women, serving at home and abroad with little thanks or recognition. God bless John and Fran. God bless our troops. Happy Thanksgiving to all….



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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