The Path of Easy Company - 2019
A thirteen-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, a stop in Nuremberg in the spirit of "Why We Fight," and a grand finale at the ruins of Hitler's house and the Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgaden.
September 12 - 25, 2019
DAY ONE: Thursday, September 12
Travel day. Depart from various destinations in the USA for Paris, France.
DAY TWO: Friday, September 13
Coordinated morning flights arrive into Charles de Gaulle NO LATER THAN 10:30AM. 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 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 German bunker, and watch a superb short film on Operation Overlord. We'll gaze upon the remnants of the Mulberry Harbor, before heading over the gun battery of Longues-sur-Mer.
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 14
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 15
After breakfast, we’ll kick off the day by heading to the Command Post site of the 506th at Culoville, and then take leisurely drive to visit the peaceful hamlet of Angoville au Plain and its famous church.
From there we’ll stop at the renowned Dead Man’s Corner Museum and then off to Carentan, following Easy's route of advance and visiting related sites along the way. 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.
To put a cap on an amazing day of touring, we’ll head over to Pointe-du-Hoc to stroll around the massive gun batteries and shell craters at the objective seized by Rudder and his Rangers.
Once we finish at the Pointe, we’ll go back to our hotel and then out for dinner.
DAY FIVE: Monday, September 16
After three days spent covering the big picture and Easy Company's involvement in Operation Overlord, we'll devote this morning to two of the biggest stops in Normandy: Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer.
We'll visit a heavily scarred bunker that displays perhaps the most visceral evidence of the fighting that took place on this tranquil beach 75 years ago... and take some time to walk out on the beach, gather a bit of sand, and reflect upon that great invasion fleet coming ashore on June 6, 1944.
We'll then load into the vans and head to the American Cemetery. We'll do a group walk to several key locations in the cemetery, including the graves of "Salty" Harris, the Roosevelt brothers, and the Niland boys (from whence "Saving Private Ryan" got its plot idea). Afterwards, you'll be free to explore, photograph, and reflect on your own...
We'll load up into the vans at an agreed-upon time and make the drive to Bruges, with a few pit stops along the way.
We should arrive with some daylight left in the sky and some time for everyone to enjoy one of Europe's most beloved cities. Bruges was once one of the most important cities in the world due to its role in the textiles industry, and when a tidal change and technology cut it off, it remained frozen in time.
Dine, drink beer, and walk its many cobble-stoned streets and soak up some of the culture. This is a perfect place to take a breather from so much military history, before we dive into Easy's next major chapter during Market-Garden.
DAY SIX: Tuesday, September 17
After breakfast at our hotel and a bit of time in the morning for some final shopping and sight-seeing in Bruges, we’ll load our bags into the vans, and strike east for Eindhoven.
Upon arrival into this key objective city for the 101st Airborne during Operation Market Garden, we'll drop bags at our hotel and allow everyone a quick break to freshen up/unpack.
We'll then head off to explore the landing sites and paths of advance by the 506th into the city. Sites such as the Son Drop Zone, the Bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal, St. Catherine’s Church, the Dommel River Bridges, and the railroad tracks where Easy advanced through the city, are all prominent landmarks for Easy and the 506th.
With a very full day and night ahead of us, we’ll finish up relatively early so that everyone can enjoy the vibrant nightlife of Eindhoven, with its many options for dinner and drinks. Our hotel is in a prime location for all to take advantage.
DAY SEVEN: Wednesday, 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-five years ago...
DAY EIGHT: Thursday, 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 NINE: Friday, 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 check out of our hotel and 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.
We'll then head for our hotel just off the main square in Bastogne, where you'll have ample access to a wide array of restaurants and bars to sit back and discuss the day's events over a cold Belgian beer and a plate of delicious food...
DAY TEN: Saturday, September 21
Today will be dedicated to all things Bastogne, but not necessarily “Easy Company”. After breakfast, we’ll start out the day at the Bastogne Barracks - the HQ of the 101st Airborne during the fighting.
After spending some time touring some memorable locations within the city proper, we’ll pause to enjoy a first class meal at one of our favorite restaurants in Europe (the entrance is an old rail car).
Bellies full, we'll work our way out to visit some locations, key to the defense of Bastogne. One stop will be at Château Rolle for a memorable Christmas day 1944 story. From Rolle, we’ll tour the perimeter around the city, visiting key points for the 101st Airborne during the battle. We’ll look over and discuss the fields at Savy where the Division was resupplied by airdrop and then make our way over to Bizory, to see where the 501st took part in several desperate, heroic fights to prevent the Germans from penetrating the defensive perimeter.
Once we finish up this full day of touring, we’ll head back to our hotel in Bastogne, and you'll be well familiar with the town at this point to choose a restaurant and/or pub to your liking and enjoy one final evening in Belgium.
DAY ELEVEN: Sunday, September 22
Finished with our study of the Battle of the Bulge, we'll load up mid-morning and make a five and a half hour drive into Germany for the final segment of our tour.
We'll have one very memorable break in the drive, as we'll head over to the Luxembourg American Cemetery to visit the grave of one General George S. Patton. We'll also visit the graves of several notable and deeply loved Easy men and pay tribute to their sacrifices.
In line with the "Why We Fight" Episode, we'll visit the famous Nazi Party rally grounds, and then head to our hotel to drop bags in this famed German city. Much of it was heavily destroyed, as the Allies settled the score with the German heartland, but it still has a magnificent fortress wall around it and remnants of the old world to enjoy.
We'll head out for a group orientation walk before turning you loose to get dinner and drink beer. You'll love Nuremberg as a first experience in Germany. It has a distinct Medieval feel and a genuine warmth to it.
DAY TWELVE: Monday, September 23
After breakfast and a mid-morning check-out, we'll load into vans and head down towards Munich and then east 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 a lack of clouds. 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, and a farewell lunch on our final day, at the restaurant of a first class chef, with a view like none other.
DAY THIRTEEN: Tuesday, September 24
See previous day's comments...
With a trans-Atlantic flight on deck, we will do the very minimum with vehicles and leave all with as much free time as possible to enjoy one of the most beautiful destinations in the world... You will most certainly concur.
DAY FOURTEEN: Wednesday, September 25
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