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Posted on Aug 17, 2007 in Front Page Features, Stuff We Like

In the Footsteps of Heroes

By Chad Weisensel

Day 10. Sunday May 20th. Bastogne to Luxemberg.

Today we visit the many woods that the 101st occupied during the siege of Bastogne. We start at Halt Station, this was where Easy Company started. When the men arrived they lacked winter clothes and ammo, as they were digging in they received minor shelling. The 1st Battalion of the 506th had 600 men to start and after two days of heavy fighting they pulled back with 199 left, Colonel Sink was so distraught that when the men were returning he was weeping openly, shaking hands and slapping his men on the back. Here by the railroad bed is a memorial to the men of Easy who lost there lives here. It has the names that we all remember from the book and mini-series, men like Muck and Penkalla. Today Jake took us to a fairly undisturbed place near Halt Station to do some relic hunting. It is hard to get the feeling of what it was like, there is a ton of foliage on the trees and of course no snow. I did find some small undisturbed foxholes, unfortunately not much to be found.



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Next we went to where 2nd Battalion HQ was prior to the attack on Foy. Everyone remembers the attack on Foy where Speirs relieves Norman Dike. We stood in the exact spot in which Easy started the attack on Foy. We also where in the area in which Bill Guarnere and Joe Toye lost their legs. Jake gave us a quick story about when they were filming episode 11 of the Band of Brothers series" We stand alone together". When they were conducting interviews with Bill Guarnere it was awfully solemn and quiet and out of nowhere Bill says" if anyone finds my leg let me know".

One thing I noticed is how far these guys had to run to actually get to Foy, in the film it looks like a couple hundred yards, in real life it has to be 600 yards or more in some spots. Absolutely amazing the distance these men had to cover just to get to the town.

We then went into town, we saw the path in which Speirs ran through town to hook up with the other men. We also saw the building in which the German sniper was that Shifty Powers shot. The window is still there and there are a lot of bullet holes near the window. We then drove a short distance to Noville to visit the church and Rachamps where in 2002 a tree was planted and a small monument was erected in the honor of Easy Company.

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We now head to the Bastogne Historical Center. We watched a 15 minute film and then had plenty of time to walk around the Museum. This by far is the best Museum on the trip. There are so many things to see, all kinds of dioramas, full size mannequins in many different German and American uniforms, a Hetzer tank as well. In the gift shop we found so many nice things, here is where I gave back a lot of Euros. We then walked over to the Mardasson Memorial. It was built in 1950 as a small token of appreciation to American effort in the Ardennes. If you could rise above it you will see it is a five point star, each point pointing towards a significant part of the area.

On the outside and inside of the star is a list of the different units who fought in the Battle of Bulge on the American side as well as 49 states. We climbed to the top of the Memorial via spiral staircase. From here you could take some excellent photos of the countryside.

We then hopped back onto the bus and headed for Luxemburg and General Patton’s grave.

Day 11. Monday May 21st. Luxemburg to Baden Baden Germany

Today was going to be another one of those days that you will never forget, an emotional rollercoaster for sure. Today we will visit not only one of the greatest Generals in history, George S Patton and we will also visit some Easy Company mens’ graves. Luxemburg was a beautiful city, it feels like a giant fort. Today the Cemetery was opened a little early for us. Originally General Patton was buried amongst the men, he had to be moved to the front because of the amount of traffic that came through to see his grave site. It was disrespectful to the other men that were near him so they made the decison to move him up front. I like it, it gives the impression that he is overlooking his men as they rest before him.

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Many of us said our hellos and goodbyes to George Patton as well as the other men who are buried here. We also had the opportunity to visit Warren Muck and Alex Penkalas grave site as well. Before we left I had the opportunity to kneel down in front of all the men buried here. I said a quick prayer and stole a famous quote from General Patton himself when he said "It is foolish and wrong to mourn the men who died. Rather we should thank God that such men lived."


Next we headed toward Fort Simershof and the Maginot Line. The Maginot line was a fixed fortification built by the French to stop a German Army advance, little did they know that the Germans would simply go around the Line and completely annihilate the French army with their blitzkrieg tactics. The actual tour into the fort was really interesting. The work that the French put into this line was incredible.

Next we visited Hageneau, site of the final patrol for the Men of Easy Company. We were able to see the exact Building in which Bill Wingett was stationed with his MG crew. We also heard about him losing his submachine gun in the water close to this area, there were a few who wanted to check the water to see if we could find it.

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While Bill was speaking a street sweeper came by, most of us were frustrated by the noise but one person on the tour was rewarded with a memento of the occasion. After the sweeper left the area Layne noticed something on the ground. When he picked it up it was the primer for a .30 cal shell stamped 1945. It was the best find of the entire tour.

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  1. Hi, this is a great page and i was in the same museum: bastogne Historical Center
    it was the greatest museum ever!!!!!!!!!

  2. Hello Chad glad you enjoyed your tour! I,m the Brit who has Harold Webb’s helmet,(to jog your memory) That your veteran kindly added his name to, He
    was a good man and i bet very entertaining company, Also in ,y collection is the jeep cap and shoulder eagle belonging to Ed pepping one of the medics
    from BoB bye for now Chris Freeman.

  3. Hello, this site is exactly what I have been searching for. I share your passion for these heroes and especially their campaigns. I know that Stephen Ambrose passed away, however, are these tours still going on or are people on their own when they visit these sites. Our WWII veterans are getting up there and I am not sure if they are still a part of the tours. In any event, thank you for publishing these wonderful comments and pics as well.


  4. Kathy please contact me on the forums. My name is Chad and I am under the name creeping death. Thanks for your interest and I can answer all your questions.

  5. I am trying to find out if my Grandfather is in the jake Power’s book about the 101st airborne in Normandy. My grandfather is now deceased but I do know that we was there that day and part of that unit. Can anyone help me check and validate and let me know if my Grandfather is in the book before i spend this kinbd of money on it that I really don’t have at this time. Thanks
    I can be emailed at Thanks

  6. Chad,

    What a great briefing you gave, thank you! My wife and I want to go on this tour this May, but we were wondering if anyone has been on the tour this past year 2009?? I talked to the folks at Stephen Ambrose tours and was told that they may not have an Easy Co veteran going this May, and they have Ron dong the tour by himself. So I wonder if the tour woudl still be a good thing?
    Thank you for any feedback.

  7. Hi Chad,

    Do you have an email address or better yet, a phone number where I can reach you to discuss a band of brothers trip? I heard from you some time ago but the email address that you used wouldn’t let me contact you again.