Normandy Allies Team Leaders
Program Director, Normandy Allies President. Her uncle, S/Sgt Benedict A. Smith of the 29th Division, was killed in action and is buried in Normandy. She has a lifelong interest in history and holds an M.A. in American Studies from Boston College. Normandy Allies and the International Experience flows from her 1996 visit to Normandy and her meetings with the French who rebuilt their own country and who continue to honor the Allies who liberated them.
Normandy Allies Vice President and Treasurer. Retired from the 29th Division (Light), Logistics Coordinator. SGM Frick has served as a training advisor nationally and internationally for the US Army and has escorted veterans on journeys to Normandy. Concluding 42 years of military service, SGM Frick was awarded the Legion of Merit for leadership and significant improvements and accomplishments in major operations and multi-phased training activities, the highest peacetime military award.
LTC(Ret) Peter Combee
Normandy Allies Board Member. Retired from the 29th Division (Light), Military Historian. LTC Combee has served as Leaders’ instructor and course writer, Regimental Historian and Vice-President for the 116th Regimental Foundation, has conducted military Staff Rides in Normandy, and leads groups to visit military historical sites worldwide. He is an adjunct Instructor in Military History at James Madison University. His historical research and teaching has centered on the European Theater of Operations of World War II with emphasis on D-Day, most recently focusing on Germany between the wars and the socio-economic factors which brought Germany to its Nazi State and the subsequent war. LTC Combee provides on-site formal and informal instruction throughout the International Experience as well as providing post-trip follow-up for participants.
Normandy Allies Board Member. Walter is retired from a career as a business economist. He is an amateur musician and author of No Greater Sacrifice, No Greater Love (Smithsonian Books, 2004, with Terry Golway; see www.walterfordcarter.com). The book is about Walter’s father, an Army doctor who was killed in action in the Normandy campaign of WW II. The International Experience includes a visit to rue Captain Carter, named for Walter’s father.
As the Study Trip unfolds, historians, researchers and dignitaries who have organized the activities of each day will guide the group through the sites and experiences particular to each area. Normandy Allies is grateful for the pleasure of their company as well as the benefit of their expertise.
Past Team Leaders
LTC(Ret) M. Gene Johnston (1997-2009)
Gene Johnston entered military service in Tampa in 1963, and served two tours of duty in the Republic of Vietnam in 1966 and 1968. He was selected for the U.S. Army Foreign Area Officer program in 1973 and began a specialization program with emphasis on France. He then served as a professor of strategic studies at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College. After graduating from the French War College, he served as Army attaché in the Defense Attaché Office in Paris from mid-1983 until his retirement from the Army in October 1989. After his retirement, he was selected by the Air Force Office of Special Investigations for the position of security investigator in the Paris detachment.
LTC Johnston enjoyed a wide network of colleagues and friends in Normandy. The Mayors and Regional Councilors worked closely with Gene and Marsha Smith to bring the plans for Normandy Allies to fruition. Gene passed away October 16, 2009 and is interred at Fort Mitchell National Cemetery, Fort Mitchell, AL.
Allen Williams (1997-2005)
Instructor of History at Paris Junior College in Paris, Texas. He wrote his thesis on the 29th Division training and combat in Normandy. Allen’s father, J.T. Williams, was with the 468th A.A.A. Battalion, which landed in Normandy in August 1944. His stepfather, Charles Davidson, was with the 29th Division in Normandy. Allen was also the creator and original webmaster of the Normandy Allies website.