***image1***Company grade officers from Ramstein recently had the opportunity to go beyond Hollywood’s “Band of Brothers” and “Saving Private Ryan” to experience the real history of D-Day, June 6, 1944, first-hand. The visit proved to be the learning experience of a lifetime.
As part of the U.S. Air Forces in Europe Intern Program, the 43 lieutenants and captains recently traveled to Normandy.
The group stayed in the coastal town of Courseulles, surrounded by the famous beaches of D-Day. Then with books and maps in hand, the group began their historical journey, crisscrossing the countryside to visit 22 sites in four days. Among the sites visited were the Pegasus Bridge, Merville Battery, Arromanches, Gold, Utah and Omaha beaches, Pointe du Hoc, St. Mère-Eglise and the German Cemetery in La Cambe.
“We visited places where one man, one leader, made the difference in the outcome of a battle,” said Col. Max Maxwell, USAFE’s Reserve Advisor and officer in charge of the leadership tour.
The free trip was planned and led by four staff members from the Warrior Preparation Center who tailored the tour to highlight significant battles and the leadership actions of key officers and non-commissioned officers who fought there.
“It was great to see the gratitude of the veterans and the people here in Normandy,” said Colonel Maxwell.
According to Mike Debarto, a civilian exercise planner from the center who helped lead the tour, the Normandy trip was the fifth leadership tour conducted for the USAFE Intern Program. Over the past couple of years other sites included Verdun, Waterloo and Battle of the Bulge.
“Leadership and training hasn’t changed since the time of Ceasar,” said Mr. Debarto. “The same qualities that made a good leader then are the exact same qualities as today.”
For Capt. Shylon Ferry, of USAFE Financial Management, the trip to Normandy was a refreshing experience that took her beyond her routine headquarters tasks and gave her a renewed sense of purpose.
“A trip like this really helps in our development as leaders,” said Captain Ferry.
“This has given me a new appreciation and pride for being in the military. This is what I do and this is what I am here for,” she said.