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  • Memorable Battlefield Visits

    Moments that moved me:

    -- In 1991, standing in the 4th Marine Regiment trenches outside of Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor...also on the tiny parade ground "Topside" around the ruins, contemplating how a battalion of paratroopers got in there.

    -- In 1997, climbing behind the TASK FORCE SMITH monument on the old Suwon-Osan highway in Korea and finding all the battalion positions still up there on the hill. The ROK army keeps them up, putting in fresh sandbags, etc. You could see the company and platoon traces, weapons pits, everything. Wow.

    -- In 2000, trapsing around the Vicksburg Battlefield Park and suddenly understanding why the place was called the Gibraltar of the West. Standing in some Union positions and looking at a 45 degree angle UP into the Confederate positions.

    -- In 2003 upon my arrival at Al Jaber airbase in Kuwait...seeing the Hardened Aircraft Shelters that still had holes/collapsed roofs in them from the last Gulf War that never got repaired. Lieutenant Colonel AH-1W Cobra helicopter pilots recalling exactly which ones they sacked out under as Captains when the Marines conquered the place.

    -- In 2003 coming back from OIF and driving across country...paying homage to Grant and Sherman at Shiloh. Pittsburgh Landing IS SOOOO SMALL! Running the length of the sunken lane at the edge of the Hornet's Nest...and seeing the Bloody Pond just behind the Peach Orchard on the left end.

    -- In 2003, convincing my wife we needed to go to Perryville Battlefield Park in Kentucky. Talk about a pristine battlefield--it's a State-run site, not a national one. Rolling hills...and wondering what the Rebs must have felt to push the Union off a hill and find they'd just take up positions on another one just behind it...again...and again...and again....
    Eric M. Walters,
    Colonel, United States Marine Corps

  • #2
    Eric - Those are some great ones none of which I have had the expereince of visiting myself. Here are a few of my own battlefield highlights.

    -Pegasus Bridge and the grave of Den Brotheridge...the first allied soldier killed during the DDay invasion.
    -Walking Omaha Beach while reading passages from Ron Drez's book "Voices of Normandy." First hand accounts of what U.S. soldiers saw and did there.
    - Pointe Du Hoc where it feels like the bombs were dropped just a few months ago! A still very scarred battlefield.
    - The Valley of Tears on the Golan Heights where appx 50 Israeli Centurion tanks held off more than 500 Syrian T55's for the first 24 hours of the Yom Kippur war. This after reading "The Heights of Courage" by General Avigdor Kahalane - the Israeli tank commander in charge of those 50 centurion tanks that day.
    - Gettysburg after reading the "Killer Angels" and seeing the movie "Gettysburg" based on that book.
    - Waterloo... 'nuff said!
    - The Plains of Abraham outside Quebec City where both Wolfe and Montcalm (The British and French commanders) were killed in action.
    On my "battlefield wish list" El Alamein, Tobruk and Kasserine. Also Kursk, Stalingrad, Bastonge, and Arnhem.
    Would like to make this a full time job somehow!
    Publisher
    Armchair General Magazine
    Weider History Group

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    • #3
      Well, I've studied about more battlefields than I've yet to walk personally. I'm from Alabama, and my Army travels have allowed me to at least visit the Civil War sites from Texas to Maryland. I served a year in Korea, also.
      The one I'll never forget is the one I walked on while the Gulf War was being fought. At one time, my and my team chief were the most northerly deployed unit in the AO. Gen. Johnson (82nd Airborne commander) brought his whole command staff out to see how we were doing. I was only a PFC then, and my reply was, "I'm sweating my ballhair off, Sir, but there ain't no enemy aircraft gonna get past me!" (We were a Stinger team)
      Stay Alert, Stay Alive!

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      • #4
        love that "sweatin' your ballhair off" expression! how did the general like it?!
        Publisher
        Armchair General Magazine
        Weider History Group

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        • #5
          You're all buggers. I've never been anywhere, except for that historic city, Edmonton, in which the 1942 US/Commonwealth forces stopped the Axis hordes Pacific coast invasion in Fall grau...

          (No?) :drool:
          "When I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my country. I make up for lost time when I am at home."

          Winston Churchill

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          • #6
            I remember as a kid living in Hamilton, Ontario, me and a couple of buddies walked all the way down the river(Red River?) to Stony Creek.
            Just below the crest of the Niagara Escarpment lies a battlefield; next to a golf course.
            Not sure what battle took place there and never really researched anything(this was a little before I got interested in military history).

            It's a little different nowadays.
            In the course of my duties I've had the opportunity, although not always the time, to see some historic areas; most memorable of which are trips to Budapest, Hungary and St Petersburgh, Russia.

            In Budapest, we managed(there were 22 of us)
            to book a tour of the city and were guided to what the tour-guide said was the last point of German resistance in Buda.
            It was a small building(about 25' x 25') at the top of the hill where the Chain Bridge meets the western shore of the Danube River.
            To run your fingers along the shell holes in the building walls; you can almost smell the cordite from the shell just fired from the SU-152 lying 200 metres up the road while the hungry, desperate troops huddled inside the building try to survive the constant chatter of heavy machine gun fire through the holes in the walls.
            A very sobering experience.

            In St Petersburg, we had the opportunity to have our pictures taken at the memorial cairn. This monument marks the furthest advance by German forces into what was then known as Leningrad. Unfortunately, we never had the chance to really visit any battlefields there(except for the memorial). The pictures were done on our way back to the airport.

            Once I manage to obtain a scanner, I'll post some pictures of the trip.
            Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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            • #7
              Excellent stuff, Pierre! Would you be interested in sharing some of the pictures with us?
              "When I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my country. I make up for lost time when I am at home."

              Winston Churchill

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              • #8
                BTW - if memory serves, that would be Louis Riel and the Red River Rebellion. But that was Manitoba (present day Winnipeg), not Ontario. Also - Red River (iirc) was the name of a native settlement, as well as the river. Of course, it's entirely possible that the river also flows through Ontario!
                "When I am abroad I always make it a rule never to criticize or attack the Government of my country. I make up for lost time when I am at home."

                Winston Churchill

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                • #9
                  While on Active duty I had the opportunity to lead Staff rides for my cadets (I was an ROTC detachment CO). probably the best to be able to see the actual terrain and get to the locs for historical Point of View was Antietam. Gettysburg is good too, but the modern town detracts a bit from the historical. Stones River/Murfreesboro is a bit dissapointing since much of where the battle was fought is now subdivisions and interstate. Shiloh is a good site for western theater civil war.
                  Many sites in europe are easy to get to (once you're there) but most take some imaginatin due to teh modern development and tight living spaces. I had the chance to see much of the old FRG from a 1/4ton or tank turret and almost everywhere you go you can find something from Roman to WWII as long as you have a good reference.

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                  • #10
                    Col Walters,
                    I forgot about Perryville, thanks for the reminder. I studied it while on staff at Fort Knox, but didn't get to do the staff ride. sounds like a road trip this summer.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Shane Sohnle
                      BTW - if memory serves, that would be Louis Riel and the Red River Rebellion. But that was Manitoba (present day Winnipeg), not Ontario. Also - Red River (iirc) was the name of a native settlement, as well as the river. Of course, it's entirely possible that the river also flows through Ontario!
                      I looked into it, and it's called the Stoney Creek battle monument(go figure ).
                      Still trying to find an online history of the battle; fought apparently during the war of 1812.
                      Scientists have announced they've discovered a cure for apathy. However no one has shown the slightest bit of interest !!

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                      • #12
                        My experiences started as a kid in Jersey City, N.J., My father was a fire officer and we went to visit Fire HQ, and there was a small memorial nearby. It marked the site of the battle of Paulus Hook, from the AWI, and "Lighthorse" Harry Lee attacked and defeated a small British garrison. Then we can't forget Ft. Lee right north of JC., and then West Point, and Ft Ticonderoga. Then the finale of my childhood was going to Gettysburg!

                        Joined the US Army much to my father and godfathers dissapointment. My dad wanted me in the navy, Uncle Bill wanted me to be an officer in the USMC. I wanted to be a medic and found myself on a surgical detachment that relieved the Combat Support Hospital (day #2)on the island of Grenada. Then from there I went to Ft Lee, VA, and all hell broke loose. I had the Crater(Petersburg) within walking distance of my barracks, went to Fredricksburg, Mannasas, the Wilderness, running up and down the Shenandoah valley,exposing them poor folks in Tennessee to a North Jersey wildman, well you get the general idea.

                        When Uncle Sam decided that I needed to get overseas again, I got to stomp all over Germany, Belgium, the coast of France(the part where Americans are still appreciated), and Holland.

                        Just recently I went to Ireland and drove my wife crazy with special trips to the GPO, Customs House, and the Four Courts. We also had to stop at every Ambush Marker that we saw driving. The treat of treats was going to Micheal Collin's birthplace, and then having a pint at the Four Alls pub down the road from his Mum's house ruins.

                        I drive my family and friends crazy, but I plan a lot of trips around visiting battlefields. I still have a bunch more to see.........


                        Joe Law
                        Colorado

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                        • #13
                          I have never visited any important battle sitr but I lived in my youth on a battlefield, in Toulouse in the South West of France. My home was ona little hill called Côte Pavée where in 1814 the Wellington’s British soldiers attacked the Soult’s French troops at the Battle of Toulouse. This battle occurred after Wellington has expulsed the French from Spain and invaded the South of France.

                          LaPalice.
                          Monsieur de La Palice est mort
                          Mort devant Pavie.
                          Un quart d'heure avant sa mort
                          Il était encore en vie...

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                          • #14
                            I have had the opportunity to visit many battlefields in the eastern U.S. Some of my favorites include Gettyburg, Antietam, Shiloh, and Pea Ridge.

                            My most memorable battlefield visit came a couple of years ago when my then-fiancee and I had gone out to the Washington D.C. area to visit relatives. After visiting the Arlington House we decided to stop at Manassas on our way out of town. It was the first time that she had been to a battlefield, but she did find it interesting.

                            The thing that truly made this memorable came when, on top of Henry House Hill, she asked "So, when do we get to see the Bull Run battlefield?" I had to explain that Manassas and Bull Run were different names for the same battles.

                            Nevertheless, I still married her.

                            Thomas Margraf

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                            • #15
                              Growing up in Md. and now living in Va. I have walked many battlefields in the eastern US. These include Gettysburg, Antietem, Ball's Bluff, Manassas, Fredericksburg, Chancellorsville, the Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Williamsburg, Yorktown, Cowpens, King's Mountain, Chattanooga, Chickamauga and Perryville. Of these probably King's Mountain and Perryville were the most untouched by development. During my visit to Ky. I had my most personal encounter with history, the William Whitley house in Crab Orchard, Ky. This was built by my ancestor as the first brick house west of the Alleghenys. It is a fort in its own right (complete with gun loops in the 3 foot thick walls, a dungeon, hidden escape tunnels & staircases and its own internal water supply...its built over a spring) as it was the last outpost of civilization on the frontier when it was built in 1790. It houses belongings of William Whitley that include his Kentucky rifle that is likely the weapon that killed the great Shawnee chief Tecumseh at the battle of the Thames in 1813.
                              Lance W.

                              Peace through superior firepower.

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