International Experience, July 2000
Photos from our 2000 Summer Study Trip
Normandy Allies second Summer Study Trip began on July 8 and continued until July 25. Five students participated along with four veterans and nine companions. The opening phases took place in Virginia, Maryland and Washington, DC as students learned about units that participated in Operation Overlord and the Battle for Normandy. The program continued in England as we visited areas where units trained for the invasion. Finally, the trip moved to Normandy, where we visited key sites of the liberation until we ended the study trip with our finale in Paris.
The students: Stephanie Leal, Shaun Mehtani, Tucker Robinson, Noah Segal and Colleen Tipping.
Veterans that accompanied us: William Boykin III, Don Combee, Robert Ploger and Jack Wilson.
Our companions: Patrick Boykin (son of William), Colin Campbell, James Hoelscher, Bill, Julie and Will Hopkins, Gwen and Dan Millis (Gwen is Jack Wilson’s daughter) and Mary Ellen Tipping (mother of Colleen).
The team: Marsha Smith, Pete Combee( son of Don), Charlie Frick and Allen Williams.
Below are some photos taken during our two-and-a-half week odyssey. Again, our thanks to all who participated and contributed to make this wonderful trip possible!
Walter Carter shares a letter from his father, Captain Elmer N. Carter with our group. Captain Carter, a battalion surgeon with the 115th Regiment was killed-in-action during the Normandy campaign. Lucille Boggess and Roy Stevens of Bedford, Virginia look on.
The students prepare to enter the George C. Marshall Foundation in Lexington, Virginia. Front row (l to r) Shaun Mehtani and Stephanie Leal. Back row (l to r)Tucker Robinson, Noah Segal and Colleen Tipping.
Director Marsha Smith and Team Member Sgt. Major (ret.) Charlie Frick join the students as they “try out” the jeep inside the Marshall Foundation. The foundation’s staff spoke about General Marshall’s contributions as a soldier, statesman and diplomat.
Members of our group posing at the Franklin D. Roosevelt Memorial in Washington, D.C.
We met the balance of our party in London and started the European phase with a tour of the city. Here the group poses at the entrance of the Cabinet War Rooms, the preserved underground headquarters of Prime Minister Winston Churchill’s War Cabinet and staff.
Big Ben, the giant clock tower of Parliament, just one of the many sites we saw while in London.
Arthur Clamp of Plymouth, Devon guides us during our tour of sites in and around the city. We saw areas where American troops staged from for the invasion in 1944 and also the site where the Pilgrims departed for the new world in 1620.
Tucker Robinson and Allen Williams “model” American and German World War II uniforms during an equipment demonstration given by Steve West and fellow WW II re-enactors.
During our visit to Cornwall, we toured the Duke of Cornwall’s Light Infantry Museum in Bodmin and met with its director, Major Richard Vyvyan-Robinson. In this photo, American veteran Bob Ploger and Marsha join Major Robinson (l to r) in front of the museum.
After we arrived in France via channel ferry, we began our tour of Norman sites. Here, Team Member Lt. Col. Pete Combee of the 29th Infantry Division (Light) explains the landings on Omaha Beach.
Members of the group examine one of the bunkers at the Vierville Draw on Omaha Beach. Atop this particular bunker lies the National Guard Memorial, which honors National Guard divisions (like the 29th) that fought in the war.
We were privileged to have four veterans of the Normandy campaign join us on our trip. While at Omaha Beach, the four were thanked by this French couple for their actions five decades ago. The veterans are (l to r) Jack Wilson-111th Field Artillery Battalion, William Boykin III-110th Field Artillery Battalion, Robert Ploger-121st Engineer Battalion and Don Combee-709th Tank Battalion.
The group enjoyed land and water tours of Point du Hoc. Here, Pete Combee and Charlie Frick join the students in front of the observation bunker on the edge of the point. This is the site where three companies of the 2nd Ranger Battalion stormed the bluffs on D-Day morning.
One of the most moving and beautiful places in Normandy is the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer. Over 9,300 fallen men and women rest in this immaculate shrine.
One of the fallen is Frank Peregory of the 29th Division, whose heroic actions outside Grandcamp earned him the Medal of Honor.
During our visit to the cemetery, Jack Wilson was asked by a group of British school children to describe his experiences on D-Day.
One of the many places we had a chance to visit was the town of Ste. Mere Eglise, the first town to be secured by American airborne forces on D-Day. The students posed outside the Airborne Museum, which we had the opportunity to explore.
We experienced many wonderful receptions in the towns we visited in Normandy. Here, the leaders of Ste. Mere Eglise recognize our group. At far right in the red, white and blue jacket is Normandy Coordinator Gene Johnston (Lt. Col. USA ret.) who, once again, led us during our stay in Normandy. Merci beaucoup, Gene!
Our four veterans received commemorative certificates while in Ste. Mere Eglise. It was indeed an honor to have them with us on the trip and everyone benefited from their remembrances.
One of the stops while in the Cotentin Peninsula was the new “Iron Mike” Memorial at la Fiere on the Merderet River, scene of a vicious engagement between the Germans and 82nd Airborne.
The most outstanding physical characteristics of lower Normandy are the giant hedgerows. In 1944, these natural obstacles slowed the Allied advance. Lt. Col. Combee led us on a visit to the Bois de Bretel where we saw first-hand the enormous size of the Norman hedgerows.
In St. Lo, we visited several sites including the memorial to Major Thomas Howie of the 29th Division, who was killed while leading his troops toward the town.
In Grandcamp-Maisy, our group enjoyed the “Blessing of the Sea,” an event that occurs every six years. Townspeople adorn the city with brightly-colored, hand-made flowers and decorations in preparation for this celebration.
The final destination of our trip to France was Paris. There, Normandy Coordinator Gene Johnston led us on a site-seeing tour of the city. The students posed for this photo at the Place de la Concorde. Thanks again to everyone who made this trip possible! The lessons we learned and friendships we made will last forever.