The Band of Brothers Experience 2013

How do you begin to explain such an “out of body” experience to those who ask you “How was your trip?”...  How do you sum up a once-in-a-lifetime adventure, covering over 3,500 km in 14 days, so that you can properly convey what you have seen?!?!?! 

If you combined reading the book BAND OF BROTHERS by Stephen Ambrose with watching the HBO mini-series by the same name multiple times, then you can begin to sense the exhilaration of literally walking, or in our case walking and jogging (when it came to Currahee) in the footsteps of these unique and courageous young men. 

Providing you with a tiny slice of what Patrick and I saw and experienced with the following images (Patrick took approximately 2,000 pictures) will give you a small taste of what is still out there to experience, nearly 70 years after these events took place. The hundreds of anecdotes, many of which were gathered directly from the Veterans of the 101st , added immensely to the experience. Our host and tour director, Jake Powers, is the official historian for Easy Company 506th P.I.R. of the 101st Division. He guided us step-by-step and provided the insights that made this a very special, unforgettable event. 

There is a lot to be said for “knowing the right people” and having the inside contacts. Here are a few highlights of having the inside scoop. At Brécourt Manor, we were able to walk right up to where the four 105’s were located. and step-by-step experience how they were taken out. The only thing we had to avoid were the land mines (a.k.a. cow poop). We were warmly greeted by the owner, who invited us to tour his farm and gave us a shot of his very own Calvados wine. This is an intimate experience which no other tour groups can provide. There is a very profound monument on the outskirts of the property, but to walk onto the property and look across the field, gives you chills. 

This was repeated over and over whether we visited the American cemeteries at Normandy, Margraten, or Luxembourg. Seeing a German cemetery or visiting Dachau, time and again your heart skipped a beat and your senses drifted back to what took place there not so long ago. Many things have changed, but having the proper guidance allowed you to walk and see so much history. 

Seeing exactly when then 1st Lt. Winters hit the ground in Normandy in Ste.-Mere-Eglise, staring at the same, second story window where the MG-42 was firing down on Easy Company on the road to Carentan, or literally walking the same footsteps of the boys on the 1,000 yard patrol is impossible to convey. Standing in the foxholes staring into the village of Foy, like the soldiers did in January of 1945, you can begin to sense the fear they would have crossing an open field to take their objective. 

We could go on forever because this is a journey that will remain in our memories for our lifetime. If you are a true historian of the ETO during the Second World War. I urge you to make a trip like this part of your future plans. There were plenty of great museums to visit, personal interactions with locals at every step of the way, and great food to boot. Language is not a barrier, as you can always find someone who speaks English! We highly recommend Band of Brothers Tours.

Bill and Patrick Shea


Day 1:  The entrance to Camp Toccoa

 

The journey begins...Currahee in the background

 

Three miles up and three miles down!

 

Atop Currahee

 

We made it!  Touching the plaque

 

The plaque

 

Entrance to Camp Taccoa

 

The stables that the 506th used for barracks in Aldbourne

 

Day 2:  The National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center at Fort Benning, Georgia, USA

 

One of many Paratrooper displays at Fort Benning

 

Hermann Goring Reichmarshall Baton

 

Hermann Goring Reichmarshall Baton

 

Day 4:  Our digs in Normandy, Chateau de Quineville...Rommel stayed here in 1944

 

The lounge at the Chateau

 

The Chapel at St. Mere Eglise

 

Inside the Chapel at St. Mere Eglise

 

This pasture is the EXACT spot where then Lieutenant Dick Winters landed in St. Mere Eglise

 

This is the spot in St. Mere Eglise that then Sergeant Carwood Lipton landed

 

Airborne Museum in St. Mere Eglise - A MUST SEE!!!

 


Airborne Museum in St. Mere Eglise - A MUST SEE!!

 

Chapel at Angoville-au-Plain that was used as an aide station

 

Inside the Chapel ~ blood stains remain on the pews, along with a hole in the ceiling where a mortar came through and, fortunately, didn't explode

 

The hole in the ceiling from a mortar

 

Monument at the Chapel in Angoville-au-Plain

 


The Cathedral at St. Marie du Mont.  The Germans had a lookout here that was directing fire on to Utah Beach

 

WWI (and now WWII) Monument in St. Marie du Mont

 

Members of the 101st Airborne that liberated St. Marie du Mont by that same monument above

 

Brecourt Manor

 

The field where German 105mm guns were firing on to Utah Beach.  All four were taken out by the 506th, led by Dick Winters.  He received the Distinguished Service Cross for these actions..."Silencing The Guns"

 

The Monument at Brecourt Manor

 

The Monument where a C-47 crashed on D-Day, killing all aboard, including C.O. 1st Lieutenant Thomas Meehan and 16 others in Easy Company's HQ Section

 

Bill and Patrick reflecting upon the Monument Statue for Dick Winters in Normandy

 

Utah Beach

 

Utah Beach

 

Memorial at Utah Beach

 

Dead Man's Corner Museum in Carentan ~ the museum is a must-see!!

 

Day 5:  Command Post for Colonel Robert Cole, 502nd P.I.R.  From here, he led a Bayonet Charge now known as "Cole's Charge" for which he was awarded the Medal of Honor.

 

Road into downtown Carentan, at the end of Purple Heart Lane.  The Germans were waiting here for the allies to arrive

 

This city was heavily fortified.  The Germans had a machine gun post in the top left window

 

Downtown Carentan.  The first arch is where Dick Winters was wounded

 

Bill and Patrick under that infamous arch

 

Pointe-du-Hoc, many huge bomb craters remain!

 

Gun emplacement at Pointe-du-Hoc

 

Pointe-du-Hoc

 

Bill and Patrick at Pointe-du-Hoc

 

Omaha Beach

 

Omaha Beach, panoramic view

 

Our group on Omaha Beach

 

Walking up to one of many gun emplacements.

 

View from that same gun emplacement

 

Patrick on top of that same gun emplacement, which housed a deadly 75 mm PAK 40. 

This wreaked havoc on American landing craft and was knocked out by a Sherman.

 

Map of Normandy American Cemetery

 

Normandy American Cemetery, an overpowering picture

 

A Comrade In Arms Known But To God

 

Invasion map of Normandy Beaches

 

 

Day 6:  Memorial in Son, The Netherlands

 

 

End of the Drop Zone for the Allied Forces situated between Best and Son.  The land owner painted an "X" on the roof of his house to guide pilots to the zone.  He also cleared the fields of corn

 

 

This is the famous Paulus Farm that was situated in the middle of the Drop Zone

 

 

Tour Leader Jake Powers with George Koskimaki, who was General Taylor's Radio Man.  He jumped into Son

 

 

Our brush with one of the Members of the Greatest Generation, George Koskimaki.  He enjoyed hearing about The Ruptured Duck

 

 

Monument at Son for Troop Carriers (C-47) and Gliders

 

 

Lieutenant Colonel Cole Monument in Best, The NetherlandsHe earned the Medal of Honor at Carentan on so-called Purple Heart Lane and known as the "Bayonet Charge".  He received the medal posthumously, due to the fact that he was KIA in the vicinity of the monument

 

 

The bridge in Son that was Easy Company's objective during Market Garden.  The Germans blew up the bridge just before they arrivedCivilians started to repair the bridge and make it ready for use. It’s here where Major Laprade dove into the canal with the pistol in his hands. It’s also where Lieutenant James Diel was thinking to earn his Silver Star, but unfortunately got KIA.  It’s also the bridge where the 30th Corps crossed  the Wilhelmina Canal on their way up to Arnhem, they came from the left side of the bridge

 

 

We did run into a few pigs along the way!!

 

 

Day 7:  Sign welcoming us and Veterans to Arnhem, The Netherlands

 

 

"The Bridge Too Far" in Arnhem

 

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