The Path of Easy Company - 2018
An eleven-day tour starting with the invasion beaches and landing objectives of Normandy, across into Holland for a study of Easy's role in Operation Market Garden, followed by a trip into the Ardennes to revisit its role in the Battle of the Bulge, and finishing up at the Eagle's Nest...
September 13 - 24, 2018
DAY ONE: Thursday, September 13
Travel day. Depart from various destinations in the USA for Paris, France.
DAY TWO: Friday, September 14
Coordinated morning flights arrive into Charles de Gaulle. We'll link up in the lobby of the nearby Hilton Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport to allow for people to relax while others arrive. We'll do our best to get free and clear of the notorious Paris traffic and stop for lunch at a motorway rest stop once we are out of the city limits.
We'll dive right into the D-Day story, beginning with Pegasus Bridge and the first home liberated in Operation Overlord, Café Gondré. We'll then tour a command bunker in Ouistreham to get a feel of the defenses, before heading west to Arromanches.
There we'll visit Cinema 360, housed in a former pillbox complex, and watch the best short film you'll ever see on the Normandy Landings. We'll gaze upon the remnants of the Mulberry Harbor, before heading over the gun battery of Longues-sur-Mer for our final bit of history for the day.
We'll get checked into our hotel soon after and get an early dinner, as you will be ready for a much needed sleep!
DAY THREE: Saturday, September 15
An "Easy" day... We'll head over to historic St. Mere Eglise to visit the Airborne Museum and set the tone for the rest of the day. After an obligatory stop at the famous church, we'll hit several nearby spots where the men of Easy landed, visit the crash site and memorial to LT. Meehan’s Stick #66, and from there head to Ravenoville and the famous Marmion Farm. Like the men of Easy, we’ll then migrate towards Causeway #2 and St. Marie du Mont, stopping at the site of the "wagon ambush" and the locations and events surrounding the Brecourt Manor gun battery assault.
After lunch, we’ll visit the statue of Dick Winters and take a walk along Utah Beach and its various monuments. We'll then head over to Carentan, following Easy's route of advance and visiting related sites. From there, we’ll head over to the area where the “Bloody Gulch” fight took place on 13 June 1944. This was the key battle for Carentan and the link between Utah and Omaha Beach.
We'll head to a nearby village for a meal and time to unwind after a very full day.
DAY FOUR: Sunday, September 16
As we have our days of digging deep into Easy's history, it is vital to have days to reflect and relax. Today will be just that, as well as a long travel day.
We'll leave our gear at the hotel after checking out and head over to Pointe-du-Hoc for an hour and a half to stroll around the massive gun batteries and shell craters at the objective seized by Rudder and his Rangers.
From there, we'll head over to Omaha Beach, before we visit the cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer to pay respects to the men who died in this important operation. Notable gravestones will include the Niland brothers (whose story sparked "Saving Private Ryan"), General Roosevelt, and one "Salty" Harris.
We'll get lunch, pick up our bags from the hotel, and make the drive to Bruges, Belgium. We'll make a stop or two along the way, but you'll have the full evening to relax and enjoy the food, beer, and gorgeous evening sights of one of Europe's most beloved old cities.
DAY FIVE: Monday, September 17
After two days of battlefields, monuments, and cemeteries, you'll have the morning off to walk around Bruges and do a bit of sight-seeing and shopping... From waffles, to lace, to the greatest beer store on the planet, or even hopping on a bike tour of this fabled city, enjoy some time to soak up some culture and color.
We'll meet up at the hotel after lunch, where your packed bags will be loaded into the vans, and we'll strike east for Eindhoven.
Upon arrival into this key objective city for the 101st Airborne during Operation Market Garden, we'll drop bags and head off to explore the landing sites and paths of advance by the 506th into the city. Sites such as St. Catherine’s Church, the Dommel River Bridges, the railroad tracks where Easy advanced through the city, and Van Abbe Museum, are all prominent landmarks for Easy and the 506th.
We’ll head to Nuenen where Easy ran headlong into a German column that was rushing towards Eindhoven to counterattack US forces, and we'll pay respects at the memorial to several members of Easy killed in that fighting.
DAY SIX: Tuesday, September 18
After breakfast at our hotel, we’ll load up and head onto the route commonly referred to as Hell’s Highway. Our destination is what came to be known as “The Island." This sliver of land between the Rhine and Waal rivers was where Easy was sent to help contain German forces in October and November of 1944.
We’ll spend time at Schoonderlogt, the site of the 2d Battalion HQ, where then-Captain Winters took his well-known photograph standing near the arch heading into the farm’s courtyard. After that, we’ll take a short ride to visit two small fields between the towns of Heteren and Randwijk. It was there that Easy fought the “Crossroads” battle, where a reinforced platoon of Easy Company troopers destroyed the better part of an SS battalion.
After lunch we'll head over to the city of "A Bridge Too Far." Once in Arnhem, we'll view the famous location of the bridge (since replaced) and see some of the scars of the battle. Afterwards, we'll head over to the Hartenstein Hotel, where the British Airborne set up their command base. It's now an amazing airborne museum, and you'll have time to learn more about this final objective and discuss Easy's role in helping evacuate them from the far bank of the Rhine.
By mid afternoon, we'll head back to Eindhoven to drop off the vehicles, rest up a bit, and grab an early meal.
Tonight will be the celebration of Liberation Day, and there will be a parade and ceremonies on the very day that the 101st liberated Eindhoven, seventy four years ago...
DAY SEVEN: Wednesday, September 19
We've got two final stops for you in the Netherlands, before we head south into the Ardennes to learn about the Battle of the Bulge and Easy's role in it.
Our first stop will be the massive war museum in Overloon. This has one of the largest collections of armored vehicles, as well as giant display cases of weapons, field guns, dioramas of fighting positions, etc. You will thoroughly enjoy this visit, and we'll allow ample time for you to walk through the various halls and examine the wide array of weaponry and military vehicles.
Our final tribute to the fighting in Market Garden will be at the most fitting place imaginable: the American Cemetery at Margraten. We'll pay respects at the graves of several members of Easy Company and reflect upon all we've seen and learned of Operation Market Garden in the past two days in Holland.
By mid-afternoon, we'll head south into the heart of the Ardennes and arrive at our lovely hotel, nestled in a quiet little village. Enjoy a walk around the property or sit out on the terrace and enjoy a few Belgian beers, before being treated to a first class dining experience at the hands of a master chef. This is one of our favorite hotels in Europe, and you'll soon see why...
DAY EIGHT: Thursday, September 20
The Battle of the Bulge...
We'll spend a very full day covering the Battle of the Bulge and delving into the story of Easy Company's contributions to the defense and counter-attack against this last great German offensive on the Western Front in WWII.
We'll first head over to the massive American memorial at Mardasson and then visit the adjacent Bastogne War Museum for a couple of hours to gain a full overview of the battle.
After lunch in Bastogne, we'll turn our full attention to Easy Company. We'll head over to the Easy Company Memorial at Halt Station, a spot that marked the unit boundary between the 501st Parachute Infantry and 2d Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry, and saw heavy fighting in December 1944. We'll then proceed over to the foxholes of the Bois Jacques and walk among them and discuss this chapter of Easy's WWII campaign.
From there, we'll make the short drive to Foy and look at routes that Easy took during their assault on the town. We’ll stand where Shifty Powers took out a German sniper, see where 3d Battalion medics maintained an aid station until overrun by German forces, and see the field where Easy took cover behind several haystacks as they moved into the town.
Once we finish in Foy, we’ll head up to Noville. From the center of town, we’ll examine how Easy advanced and helped seize this small village. Depending on time and energy, we have a few other spots to examine.
Either way, we'll head back to our hotel full of sights and stories and enjoy a nice, cold Belgian beer on the terrace, before we enjoy another fantastic dinner at our hotel.
DAY NINE: Friday, September 21
We'll check out of our hotel in the morning and drive back to Bastogne for a last bit of history, starting with the Bastogne Barracks - the HQ of the 101st Airborne during the fighting. We'll also stop at Château Rolle for a memorable story from the battle.
Next stop will be the Luxembourg American Cemetery, where we'll pay our respects to the fallen of the Battle of the Bulge... including some members of Easy and General Patton.
After this, kick back and relax, as we drive into Germany and drop our vans in Trier and switch to German rail. Enjoy the legroom, reclining seats, and a dining and bar car, as we roll southeast to Munich.
Upon arrival, we'll check into our rooms, freshen up, and meet up in the lobby for a little orientation stroll in the old part of town. We'll even retrace the steps of Adolf Hitler and his short-lived Beer Hall Putsch.
Once we've finished our walk and all are familiar with the area, you'll be free to dine, drink, or both.
Saturday will be a later start, so enjoy Friday night in beautiful Munich!
DAY TEN: Saturday, September 22
After breakfast and an 11:00am check-out, we'll load into vans and head on a scenic Autobahn drive along the northern edge of the Alps, until we turn south and head through a mountain pass for Berchtesgaden.
We have a few things planned for our final two days here, but one is completely dependent upon weather: the Eagle's Nest. Due to its altitude, we will have to take full advantage of the weather. Whether that afternoon is clear or the following day is better, we'll build the rest of the schedule around this feature of the tour.
Other stops will include the hard-to-find remnants of Hitler's Berghof, which Easy occupied. We'll even take a bunker tour and get a feel for this memorable part of WWII history, discussing the tales and antics of Easy's well-earned rest at the end of a brutal world war.
There are other hidden military history gems, but equally important is this: it is the final day and a half of the tour. We want you to relax and enjoy yourselves as much as possible.
There are some excellent outdoor hikes to enjoy, a boat trip on a pristine lake that is ringed by mountains, a salt mine tour, a great town with walking streets and charming shops, or even a visit to our favorite beer hall in all of the world: Augustiner in Salzburg.
DAY ELEVEN: Sunday, September 23
See previous day's comments...
Farewell group dinner that evening.
DAY TWELVE: Monday, September 24
We'll have a very early checkout and drive the two and a half hours to the Munich airport for you to catch your flight home.
OVERNIGHT: YOUR BED