Easy Company: England to the Eagle’s Nest
Made famous by The New York Times best-seller Band of Brothers and the critically acclaimed miniseries that followed, Easy Company members shared their stories with Museum founder Stephen E. Ambrose, who immortalized their lives from jump training to the war’s end. On this unforgettable, 13-day travel experience, you will follow in the footsteps of Easy Company, part of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne. Led by historians and curators from The National WWII Museum, this tour takes you from the hedgerows of Normandy, along “Hell’s Highway” in the Netherlands, through the foxholes surrounding Bastogne, and atop the Eagle’s Nest — immersing you in the lives of Easy Company.
After individual arrivals into London-Heathrow (LHR) proceed west of London to the training areas of Easy Company. After lunch in Aldbourne, enjoy a walking tour with local villagers and members of the Aldbourne Historical Society, who recount what it was like to welcome Easy Company and other American troops more than 75 years ago. This evening, get to know your fellow travelers at a Welcome Reception and Dinner at the hotel.
Portsmouth/Cross the English Channel
After breakfast at the hotel, head south to the county of Hampshire to visit Fort Nelson – Royal Armouries. Fort Nelson boasts a vast collection of different artillery and guns from various time periods. Built between 1860 and 1870, Fort Nelson is part of one of the biggest defense projects ever undertaken in Britain, and was constructed to deter an enemy attack on Portsmouth. During World War II, the fort became a munitions store for the extensive anti-aircraft batteries defending Portsmouth. The Royal Armouries Museum was opened in 1984, and today is one of the largest artillery museums in the UK. For lunch, enjoy classic English pub fare in the picturesque village of Southwick, renowned for the planning of the D-Day landings and the historic location where Eisenhower and Montgomery met. This afternoon, cross the English Channel by ferry, landing in Normandy late in the evening.
Utah Beach/U.S. Airborne
After breakfast, depart for the Utah Beach area to tour the landing beach and visit the Utah Beach Museum. View an original B26 bomber in the museum’s hangar and listen to the oral history of Dick Winders on the 2nd floor of this magnificent museum. Next, take an exclusive tour of Brecourt manor, made famous by Easy Company’s action here on June 6, 1944. In the small town of Saint-Mere-Eglise, enjoy lunch independently then visit the Airborne Museum and the church made famous by the film, The Longest Day. En route to the hotel, the coach makes a photo stop at Marmion Farm, the makeshift rendezvous point for paratroopers during the D-Day invasion. Enjoy dinner with the group this evening.
La Fière, Easy Company in Normandy
Today, travel along rural lanes, past hedgerows, and over causeways to La Fière bridge, where
elements of the 82nd Airborne fought off four days of attacks from German troops trying to retake this strategic bridge. Next, visit the historic Château de Bernaville, where a little-known event involving US
paratroopers factored heavily into the Allies’ D-Day success. Next, travel to Beuzeville-au-Plain to view the monument to Lt. Thomas Meehan’s downed C-47, and hear his story. After an included lunch during your visit to the Normandy Victory Museum, learn the story of Easy Company at the important town of Carentan, which linked the Utah and Omaha Beach forces. End the day’s touring at the Dead Man’s Corner Museum and with a visit to the church at Angoville au Plain. A shuttle to Bayeux is provided this evening for guests to enjoy dining independently at one if this town’s many quaint cafés.
Pointe du Hoc / Omaha Beach / Normandy American Cemetery
On the final day in Normandy, touring is devoted to the ground troops who came ashore in the Omaha Beach area. First, visit to Pointe du Hoc, where Army Rangers faced tough odds coming ashore and scaling the imposing 100-foot cliff. Next, visit Dog Green Sector of Omaha Beach. A Company, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry of the 29th “Blue and Gray” Division landed at “H- Hour” on D-Day. A 250-meter stretch of beach untouched by preliminary bombardments lay in front of them, and they could clearly see German bunkers in the distance. Within 15 minutes A Company was reduced from an assault company to a small rescue party. These events inspired the opening scenes of Saving Private Ryan. After an included lunch overlooking Omaha Beach, spend the afternoon at the Normandy American Cemetery, where more than 9,000 Americans are laid to rest in the ground they helped liberate. Guests will be given time to walk the grounds, visit the small museum and remember the sacrifices made here. Reflect on the day’s touring during dinner with the group this evening.
Normandy to the Netherlands
Bid farewell to Normandy and head to The Netherlands. Along the way, view episodes from The Band of Brothers miniseries. Stop in picturesque Amiens, France, a city along the Somme River. Enjoy lunch and independent exploration, with time to visit the Amiens Cathedrals, the tallest complete catehdral in France, and a UNESCO world heritage site. RElax on the coach this afternoon. An included dinner at the hotel greets you upon arrival in Eindhoven.
Eindhoven / Arnhem / Nijmegen
In September 1944, the Allies launched Operation Market Garden, a daring airborne operation meant to secure crucial Rhine River crossings and advance into northern Germany. Although it ultimately failed to achieve its objectives, the determination and courage shown by the airborne troops and the units that assisted them made Market Garden one of World War II’s most famous battles. During today’s tour, visit the actual battle sites where Easy Company fought and learn how the 101st Airborne fit into Operation Market Garden at Nuenen, Zon Bridge, and Logtenburg. After lunch, visit Schoonderlogt Farm to see where Dick Winters led the attack at “The Crossroads,” the subject of Episode 5 of Band of Brothers. Near Arnhem, members of the company helped rescue more than 100 British airborne troops who were stuck behind enemy lines across the Rhine during Operation Pegasus in October 1944. The touring day ends in Nijmegen and “A Bridge Too Far” before returning to Eindhoven where guests enjoy an evening at leisure.
Netherlands American Cemetery / Journey to the Ardennes
This morning, guests may choose to take a guided walking tour of Eindhoven, explore the area independently, or relax at the hotel. The optional morning tour includes details on the actions that occurred around Eindhoven, with visits to the Joe Mann Memorial and the Robert Cole Memorial. After lunch at leisure, visit the Netherlands American Cemetery in Margraten – the only American military cemetery in The Netherlands. A unique aspect of this cemetery is its connection with the Dutch people. Since 1945 members of the local community have adopted the grave sites of the American fallen. They bring flowers to the cemetery and research the life of the service member they adopt as a way to honor their sacrifice. After paying respects to members of Easy Company who are buried there, continue to the medieval market town of Clervaux, Luxembourg, in the heart of the Ardennes. Along the way, the tour guide presents an overview of the Battle of the Bulge – Hitler’s last-ditch effort to defeat the Allies in the west, and the largest land battle fought by the US Army in World War II.
Battle of the Bulge / Bastogne / Bois Jacques
This day is dedicated to the heroic defense of the besieged crossroads town of Bastogne. Band of Brothers Episode 6: ”Bastogne,” along with today’s visits to the Mardasson Memorial, a monument honoring the memory of the American soldiers wounded or killed during the Battle of the Bulge. Next, a visit to the Bastogne War Museum provides insight into the experiences of the troops during the harsh, cold winter of 1944 – 45. In the Bois Jacques forest guests may choose to climb in the foxholes of that provided some shelter to Easy Company. Tour Bastogne Barracks, where on December 22, 1944, Gen. Tony McAuliffe of the 101st gave his famous reply of “NUTS!” to the Germans’ request that Americans surrender the encircled town of Bastogne. Free time in Bastogne is also provided during the day for lunch – and perhaps some shopping for Belgian chocolates. The evening is at leisure.
Before departing the Ardennes, the final stop is at the Luxembourg American Cemetery and Memorial, where guests visit the graves of Easy Company members and of Gen. George S. Patton. Continue to Haguenau for lunch and then walk the “Last Patrol” of Easy Company, where they held fast against Operation Nordwind, the last major German offensive of the war in the west, for more than a month. Visit the MM Park (Musee Militaire), a new museum with an impressive collection of tanks and other large artifacts of the era. Arrive in Stuttgart this evening
and enjoy dinner and exploration on your own.
Dachau / Zell Am See
Located ten miles northwest of Munich, the Dachau Concentration Camp was established in 1933 to hold political prisoners. Throughout the rest of the 1930s, the camp grew to hold Jews, Roma, Slavs, and more groups deemed unworthy by the Nazis. In 1943, as war raged across the continent, the Nazis constructed more than 150 subsidiary camps near Dachau where prisoners were often worked to death. The terrible conditions in Dachau and throughout the subsidiary camps led to a widespread typhus epidemic by the end of 1944, as the Allied armies were preparing to enter Germany. When the first American troops approached the camp in April 1945, the sight of the prisoners and the living conditions tested even the most battle hardened soldiers. Episode 9 of the miniseries portrays Easy Company discovering one of Dachau’s subsidiary camps at Landsberg. After discussing why World War II was fought, the group heads to the Bavarian Alps, as Easy Company did, for the final chapter of the journey.
On the final day of touring, guests take in the spectacular views from Hitler’s Eagle’s Nest, captured by Allied forces in May 1945. A gift to Adolf Hitler for his 50th birthday in 1939, Eagle’s Nest was funded by Hitler’s inner circle. Legend says that Mussolini gifted the fireplace to the project. Although a fortune was spent to build the perch, Hitler only made 14 official visits. Return to Zell Am See and reflect on the journey during a farewell dinner at the hotel, overlooking the lake featured in the final scenes of Band of Brothers.
Zell Am See / Munich
Early this morning the entire group transfers together to the Munich Airport (MUC) for individual flights home.* (B)
Meet Your Trip Host
Doreen is the Chief Administrator for the Mathematics Department in the College of LSA. She is responsible for strategic planning with the Chair, budget planning, managing staff, and herding the 140 faculty who teach and do research in the department. One of the projects she has grown to over 500 participants is the Michigan Math and Science Scholars (MMSS) program over the last several years. She has been at the University for about 35 years, and in Mathematics for 19 years.
Doreen served 41 years in the US Navy (mostly in the Reserves). Her first 30 years were glorious, supporting various 4-star commands, traveling extensively throughout Europe. She was mobilized in 2007-08 to Iraq where she served as the Corps Historian, then was mobilized in 2012 to Afghanistan, working with the Special Forces Command Headquarters.
Doreen has three grown daughters, one son-in-law, and two grandbabies. She enjoys her cottage/pontoon in mid-Michigan during the summer months and screams like a banshee during football Saturdays at the Big House.