International Experience July 2011
International Experience 2011: July 12-24
Our 13th annual International Experience! We began with lunch in Paris on July 13th, journeyed by coach to Normandy for 9 days exploring the sites of the 1944 Normandy landings and battles of World War II, and ended with another lunch in Paris and tour of Versailles.
We were honored to include in our group WWII Normandy veteran Karl Monson who as Major was the Executive Commander of the attached 502nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, and subsequently promoted to Lt. Col. with the 1st Army V-Corps staff. On the July 18th anniversary of the liberation of St. Lô, when we attended the annual commemoration ceremonies, LTC Monson was made an Honorary Citizen of the city. He was accompanied on the trip by three of his children: David Monson (OH), Sharye Skinner (NY), and Janna Treisman (WA).
The students this year were: Matt DeSalvio (PA), Emily Boak (PA), Olivia DeCarlo (NY), Kayla Fries (NY), Laurel Lehman (NY), Ali Nikish (NY), and Rebecca Faunce (MD), granddaughter of WW II veteran Austin Cox. All seven were welcomed for four nights in the homes of French residents of Grandcamp-Maisy. The adult travelers included LTC(Ret) William D. Wolf and his wife Vicki, SGM(Ret) John Kuntz who currently teaches history and ROTC at Baptist Hill High School in Yonges Island SC, Elva Card who teaches at Woodrow Wilson High School in Fairfax VA, Leanne Dumais who teaches at Admiral Rickover Academy in Chicago IL, and Bonnie Carter.
In addition, James Rone (TN), whose uncle, PFC James Rone Jr., 81st Chemical Mortar Battalion, was killed in action on Omaha Beach on D-Day, joined the trip. James was accompanied by his son-in-law, Forest Nabors (MS) and two grandsons, Jackson Nabors (MS) and Griffin Rone (TN).
The journey was significant in so many ways—and Matt DeSalvio provides an insight from his perspective at the end of our day at Omaha Beach:
“Today was without a doubt the most anticipated day of the trip for me, and what I witnessed defied my expectations. Having our WWII veteran Karl meet his goal of finally getting to Omaha Beach was truly an inspiration to see. It’s good to see that Karl can finally get over the anxiety of not having any closure on the events of D-Day. Watching Karl walk triumphantly onto that beach will forever be seared into my mind as an example of how to overcome personal struggles in one’s life. I watched Karl as he stood on Omaha Beach and I could tell that it wasn’t an easy thing to reflect upon, as he had been standing in the exact same location 67 years ago and watched many of his friends die. However, I also noticed that he was able to understand that the war is long over and Omaha Beach is now a peaceful place.
The main thing I carried away from today was learning how to overcome your fears and anxiety. Even though Karl didn’t seem like he wanted to go on the beach, he managed to push on and finally reach his destination. Karl will forever be an inspiration to me as I will think back to today whenever I have a challenging obstacle facing myself.”
Visit Normandy Allies on Facebook for many more photos!