By Hank Schrader, USMA,’71, Europe Destination Specialist and Europe River Cruise Expert
In 2014, for the 70th Anniversary of D Day, we led a group to commemorate the Allied landing on 6 June 1944, at Normandy. We planned the first trip for over 2 years and the participants declared it a great success. But as good as that trip was, we expect our 75th Anniversary trip to be even better. While sometimes celebrations and festivals are too much, the D Day festivities are a once-in a-lifetime experience and well worth a visit during festival time. Along with many visitors, there are numerous reenactors dressed in vintage uniforms, old military equipment and vehicles on display—it is a spectacle beyond words. We hope you will consider joining us.
Some of the display vehicles from our 2014 tour
I have been asked by the Houston Academy Association to lead a D Day trip for the 75th Anniversary of D Day in 2019. This is still in the planning stages, but we have secured hotel reservations, which is critical to the success of the trip, as most lodging facilities in the Normandy area are booked to capacity during the week long activities around the June 6th date. The trip will be in 2 parts, with a visit to England and then on to the Normandy area. In England, we will visit the Churchill War Rooms and the Imperial War Museum, and have dinner at the Victory Club.
After a train ride through the Chunnel, we will travel to Bayeux, our base of operations. Along with the D Day sights, we will also get to see the Bayeux Tapestry (the tapestry depicts the events about Battle of Hastings in 1066) and add a visit to Mt. St. Michel, the second most popular tourist sight in France after the Eiffel Tower. Also, in Normandy, our trip will include a visit to Caen Memorial Museum and the castle in Caen. The trip will end in Paris, where folks who go can visit Paris or other Europe locations or fly home.
D Day Sites
We plan to visit most of the key sites in Normandy. These include the following:
Arromanches is where the Allies established Port Winston, complete with a breakwater that was the size of the port at Dover, England.
We will also visit the Arromanches 360 degree theater—called the Price of Freedom—it is a moving display of the impact of D Day and the ultimate victory in WW II.
Longues-sur-Mer Gun Battery–This is the site of a 4 casemate (3 have artillery pieces inside) German Gun Battery. They are located about 300 yards from the coast and are arranged in a semi-circle to maximize their firing range east to west. They are the only original coastal artillery that remain in Normandy today. The last picture of this group of pictures is the forward observation post nearer the beach.
Omaha Beach—On June 6th, 1944, this beach was the site of the fiercest fighting of the Normandy invasion. Its success allowed the invasion forces to gain a foothold on Normandy and ultimately defeat the Germans. Anyone with some military training, could see upon visiting this beach, the impossible task it was to cross the open beach under enemy fire early that morning. One of my former units, the First Infantry Division (the Big Red One), was responsible for the eastern half of the beach, while the 29th Infantry Division, new to combat, assaulted the western half, along with some Ranger units. It will make you humble to see this former war site.
Pointe du Hoc Ranger Monument—The 90 foot cliffs are a stunning reminder of one of the most famous feats in combat in World War II. As a former soldier, who has graduated from the US Army Ranger School, I understand how superbly trained these soldiers were prepared for that mission. We did mountain climbing training in Ranger School and is very demanding and difficult. The climb alone would be quite a feat, but to do it under enemy fire is beyond belief! Not only did the Rangers take the objective, they held off numerous counter attacks. Walking the ground, will really bring into perspective how difficult some of these D Day operations were.
Bayonet Monument Pointe Du Hoc
Ste Mere Eglise–We will visit the airborne museum. There are three areas with very interesting displays. This unique village was the first liberated during the D Day invasion and they have never forgot what liberty means. We will also arrange that all the male members of the tour will march in the parade on June 6th—it will be an event you will remember forever.
The Village of Ste Mere Eglise
Normandy American Cemetery–This Cemetery honors the sacrifice of so many—9,387 are buried here. This is a place that will really move you. It is fitting the cemetery is just beyond the beaches, were so many fought and died.
Normandy American Cemetery
How to Reserve your Spot
We need a firm 16-20 folks with a max of 40 to insure we can lead this tour. There will probably be a 30% or more non-refundable deposit. We estimate about $3500-$4000 per person but it will depend upon the contracts we are able to negotiate. First, we need you to respond with your interest. Then, we will develop the trip and provide cost details.
Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org or call me at 713-397-0188. Right now we have 8 folks who have committed to the trip. There is no obligation until the deposit dates are established.
Our Final Thoughts
This trip is a unique chance to see this area in depth and learn about the largest amphibious assault in the history of the world. It will be fun and an experience you will treasure for the rest of your life. We hope this will inspire you to visit Europe with us on this tour! Until then, we stand by to help you in all your travels to: Savor life . . . make memories . . . Visit Dream Destinations! Your journey begins here!