86th ACOMG visits Verdun, France WWI site

***image1***A group of 40 Airmen from the 86th Air and Space Communications Group
traveled to Verdun, France Sept. 29 to visit the historic World War I
battlefield near the city.

The staff ride – as these team-building off-site events are called –
allows for members of the group to educate themselves on military
history while gaining a perspective on their place in military history.

Five ACOMG Airmen prepared and delivered presentations on the strategic
and operational aspects of the battle that took place there. Dan
Harrington, U.S. Air Forces in Europe historian, led the presentations.

Chief Master Sgt. Rick Lechner, 86th ACOMG superintendent, and Lt. Col.
Paul Suarez, 86th ACOMG deputy commander, donned authentic World War I
battle gear to re-enact the capture of Fort Douaumont, the lynchpin of
the French defensive line.

“The experience was a great opportunity for me to dig in and research a
key enlisted figure in this critical battle and have a little fun doing
it,” said the Chief. “By providing insight from the first-person
perspective, I believe many of the troops got to see a good picture of
the German side of the battle.

“The lessons learned from these staff rides are invaluable, so we make
sure our modern warriors don’t repeat the mistakes of the past,” the
Chief added.  

During the visit to Verdun, Staff Sgt. Lucrecia Vierra, 1st Combat
Communications Squadron, re-enlisted at the top of Fort
Douaumont. Local French authorities gave special permission to
conduct the ceremony.

Col. Tracy Phillips, 86th ACOMG commander, said the importance of the
staff ride allows each member to enhance their professional military
knowledge and learn some of the key lessons of the Verdun battle. It
also provided a great opportunity for group members to take advantage
of visiting the European military history sites as part their
assignment in USAFE.

The battle of Verdun was the longest battle in modern history fought
for a period of 10 months from February to December 1916. More than
700,000 French and German soldiers died during the battle for the
possession of this strategic French city.
(Courtesy of 86th ACOMG.)