1944 - 2014




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Celebrate the American Spirit on a historical tour by Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours, founded by Stephen E. Ambrose, the author of the best-selling books “D-Day, June 6, 1944,” “Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West” and “Band of Brothers” as well as co-executive producer of the epic Steven Spielberg/Tom Hanks HBO miniseries, “Band of Brothers.”


October 7th, 2014

Battle of New Orleans Bicentennial Tour Added for 2015!

This year marks the Bicentennial of the Battle of New Orleans, a key moment in our nation’s history, making it the perfect time to travel to the always entertaining city of New Orleans. Our 200th Anniversary of the Battle of New Orleans Tour will be led by Ron Drez, who just completed his latest work The War of 1812: Conflict and Deception and who is the official historian for the State of Louisiana for the Battle of New Orleans. His ability to relate history in an engaging way makes him a favorite among our guests who have traveled with him.

Tour Itinerary

We will make our base at the Monteleone, a charming old world hotel in the historic French Quarter, as you travel back to sites of the final monumental battle of the War of 1812 that ensured the preservation of the Louisiana Purchase and enabled America’s westward expansion. With your expert historian and guide Ron Drez, you will experience the culture of the city, canoe the bayous navigated by Andrew Jackson and his troops, and see where he, Jean Lafitte and the soldiers, volunteers, sailors, Choctaw Indians and free people of color staged the defense of New Orleans. We will study the actual battlefield where they thrashed General Pakenham’s army and thwarted British plans to reassert their dominance in America.

Big Fun in the Big Easy!

The first two nights, we will host group dinners at two of New Orleans’ world-class restaurants, where you can choose from a menu of Creole dishes. The following evenings, you will be free to explore the Big Easy on your own. Before you depart, we will cap off the tour with jazz brunch at the Court of Two Sisters, where you will enjoy live music and famous New Orleans dishes like Grits and Grillades and Seafood Omelets.

Tour Highlights

  • Ron Drez, author of The War of 1812: Conflict and Deception and the State of Louisiana official historian for the Battle of New Orleans
  • Ride a riverboat to Chalmette Battlefield to participate in the official 200th Anniversary ceremonies
  • Visit Fort St. John, Fort St. Charles and Jackson Barracks
  • Canoe along the Bayou navigated by Andrew Jackson (or visit City Park or the Pitot House)
  • Watch a reenactment at the Chalmette battlefield
  • Take a walking tour of the historic French Quarter

Read the detailed itinerary here.

July 7th, 2014

WWII Veteran, Dear Friend and Great American Hero Albert "Spoony" Sponheimer Passes Away

All of us at Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours are very saddened to report that our dear friend and American hero, WWII veteran Albert "Spoony" Sponheimer, passed away on July 4, 2014.

Candace Page did a wonderful interview with Spoony before the 70th Anniversary of D-Day of for, which you can read here.

We hope you will take the time to read Spoony’s obituary below. It is a beautiful tribute to a wonderful man.

EAST RYEGATE, VERMONT – Another member of "America’s Greatest Generation" passed to join the ranks of his fellow soldiers on July 4, 2014. Albert Sponheimer Jr., 89, died at home with his daughters and his dog Midnight with him. He was born in Seymour, Connecticut to Albert and Edna (Daleen) Sponheimer on September 30, 1924. He attended schools in Seymour, leaving midway in his senior year to enlist in the Army in 1943. "Spoony" served as a combat medic attached to A Battery, 197th Antiaircraft Artillery Automatic Weapons Battalion. He was among the first to land on D-Day at Omaha Beach. He was awarded the American Campaign Medal, the Eastern-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal, Good Conduct Medal and the World War II Victory Medal. Fifty-three years later after records surfaced, he was awarded the Silver Star for gallantry in action on June 6, 1944, attending to the wounded on Omaha Beach. He told one story that the Germans were unable to shoot him because he was so thin, weighing only 120 pounds at six feet tall.

After the war he came home to Seymour to work as a Master Plumber and Electrician. He married Audrey W. Rowe Wilkinson on October 3, 1953. While in Connecticut he was active in the Seymour Fire Department and Post 10 American Legion (past Commander). They moved to Ryegate in 1965. The next winter their home burned to the ground. He and Audrey spent countless hours rebuilding their home on the hill.

Spoony enjoyed attending his annual Army reunions and going on many Stephen Ambrose Historical D-Day tours to share his war time stories. He enjoyed talking to school groups and others, wanting people to remember the sacrifices and importance of D-Day. A true Red Sox fan, it wasn’t until 2012 that he went to Fenway with his grandsons, Jereme and Trevor. He was active in his community after he retired, serving as selectman for the town of Ryegate for 6 years and zoning administrator for 19 years. For many years he was member of the Woodsville/Wells River 4th of July Committee, Blue Mountain School Budget Committee, Republican National Committee, Vermont Republican Town Committee, Northeastern Vermont Development Association, The National WWII Museum, Veterans of the Battle of Bulge, Inc. and a member of VFW Post 5245 North Haverhill. He was proud to have been a member of Connecticut American Legion Post 10 for 69 continuous years. His father paid his first membership dues to the Post upon his arrival home from the war.

Survivors include his stepson, Glyn Wilkinson (Lucia) of King Street Burlington VT, his daughters Denise (Frank) Leafe Harley View Drive Monroe, NH and Katrina (Michael) Peller Hydeaway Court Highland, MD. He was the proud grandfather of Amber Wilkinson, Jereme, Trevor and Brittany Leafe and Stephen Peller. He had one great-grandson Braden Francis, nieces, Daleen Anderson and Lindsey Stephenson and nephew, Gary Anderson and many cousins. Survivors also include dear friends and "best neighbors" Larry and Theresa Lavioe whom he cherished. Friends Dale and Raylene Wright who without fail brought him a weekly delicious meal for years. Many wonderful friends and many Stephen Ambrose Historical Tour friends, including special friends Rick, Joni and David Hubbard and Gary Newell.

Albert was predeceased by his parents and sisters, Evelyn Anderson and Florence Sponheimer, niece
Louise Holmes, as well as his wife, Audrey.

A Memorial Gathering will take place at 360 Hillside Drive East Ryegate at the flagpole on Saturday August 16th at 1 PM. Burial will take place at Arlington National Cemetery in the Fall.

Please consider a tribute gift in Spoony’s name to either the National World War II Museum, this will help preserve for future generations the American experience in the war that changed the world.
945 Magazine Street New Orleans, LA 70130

Or the American Macular Degeneration Foundation, losing most of his eyesight from this disease was life changing for Spoony. ( P.O. Box 515 Northampton, MA. 01061-0515.

RIP Spooney. We will miss you dearly.