Division Memorials - France 2002|
Trip to France 2002
The following article appears in the Summer 2002 issue of the
Trailblazer, pg. 4. Written by Ed Lane.
Travel to Europe today is, of course, much different than in 1944
when Trailblazers first made the trip. Fifty tour participants,
including 18 former soldiers, made the trip this year with Floyd
Freeman, I/275. Floyd claims that this was his "last" as tour host.
We've heard that before, haven't we?
Gathering at Philadelphia Airport International Terminal on May
6, the participants came in ones and twos. Single travelers and
those traveling with a spouse or companions held mini-reunions as
they greeted friends they hadn't seen for one, two or more years.
The hours spent waiting for boarding were not wasted as old friends
brought each other up to date since their last communications. The
meetings were very much like the family gatherings that they are,
full of genuine affection for old friends.
After an uneventful flight, the plane landed at the Frankfurt,
Germany Airport. There tour participants were met by Dick Brown,
D/275 and sons George, Raymond and Richard, AMs. Seasoned world
travelers with many friends in Germany and France, the Browns had
arrived before the main group. Again the greetings were more family
reunions, with participants asking Dick and company for a health
update on son Robert, AM who had suffered a back injury and thus
missed the trip (Robert is on the mend from his painful ordeal).
At this point, I split from the group and caught a train to
Bavaria where I spent several days with a German family traveling
and learning much. Then, on Saturday, May 11, I caught another train
to Saarbrucken where I was met by Thomas and Dorothee Kirsch, AMs
who hosted me in their home in Spicheren for the remainder of the
The other members of the tour group meanwhile caught their boat
for a scenic cruise of the Rhine River. During that cruise a
mysterious malady struck that group and, in turn, laid each low for
about a day and a half through the remainder of the trip, as
mentioned in President John Nothnagle's column. Many thought the
illness was caused by water or food contamination on the boat. As I
had lived and eaten with German and French families, I suffered no
ill effects even though I came into close contact with tour
participants who subsequently became sick.
The time I spent with the French while awaiting the arrival of
the main group was time well spent. I had the opportunity to live
with the French and observe French life at close quarters. The time
spent was a unique experience and resulted in many acquaintances
established last year becoming fast friendships that I am sure will
last a lifetime.
Photo from France: L to R:
Roland, Etienne, Bob HAYS, Jean Claude, Klauss, John T. NOTHNAGLE at
the 70th Division monument at Wingen. Photo byJ.C. SCHOTT (courtesy
of ASDVN, Jean-Claude Michel, Secretary)
One of the many activities that I took part in was the
preparation for the arrival of the main group. Sites had to be
checked and arrangements double checked and many questions, caused
by lack of a common language, answered. All a once-in-a-lifetime
experience, never to be forgotten.
The main benefit derived for members of the 70th Infantry
Division Association is the introduction, elsewhere in this edition,
of a new column which will introduce our French friends to the
On May 15 the main body arrived in Saarbrucken, there to be
joined by Daphne Pinion and
her cousin Karen Gardner, AMs (more pictures). The ladies of course are the
nieces of A. J. Hollingsworth, C/274 who was KIA on January 4, 1945
at Philippsbourg (see Summer 2001, page 5). Daphne and Karen are
currently writing a book about their uncle (see "Writers Seek Help"
elsewhere in this edition).
There followed a whirlwind tour of the old battlefields. In turn
Spicheren, Grosbliederstroff, Oeting, Behren, Lixing,
Wingen-sur-Moder, and Philippsbourg were visited by the former
soldiers, their families and friends. The climax of this tour, as
has been the case in many others, was a memorial service at the
Lorraine American Cemetery at St. Avold.
After a quick layover in Wiesbaden, the group flew out of
Frankfurt Airport on May 20 arriving at Philadelphia and thence
connecting to home airports. The echo fading into the cacophony of
the airport being "See you in Spokane!"
A visit to Lichtenberg. Gentleman
on left, getting out of Jeep, is Fillmore Cannon, I/275.
Photo by J.C. SCHOTT (courtesy of
ASDVN, Jean-Claude Michel, Secretary)
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