ITINERARY

day 1

We Begin

The tour begins in Atlanta with an informal Welcome Reception where participants will have an opportunity to get acquainted with each other and meet the historians and tour staff. A brief overview of the legacy of Easy Company and their contributions to the war in Europe will set the stage for the days ahead.

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day 2

Toccoa: Birthplace of the 506th

Ask any of the original members of Easy Company what made the unit so special and they will answer: “Toccoa.” This training ground in the north Georgia woods was where the bonding process among the men of the 506th began. As it did for so many of the men of Easy Company, our tour of Toccoa will begin at the train station where recruits for the 506th first arrived. The station also houses the Stephens County Historical Society – the 506th Museum – to view their unique collection of artifacts and memorabilia from Camp Toccoa. Following lunch, we travel to the site of the camp and then proceed up Mount Currahee, the 1,000 ft. mountain that the men of the 506th ran daily for training. Here they drew their inspiration and motto Currahee, an Indian word meaning We Stand Alone.

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day 3

England, Prelude to Invasion

After our arrival in London, we will visit Littlecote House, the historic English manor house that was headquarters for the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment for the six months prior to the invasion. We will tour Aldbourne, the tiny Wiltshire village that was the home of Easy Company and visit many of the buildings used by the men of Easy as they prepared for the greatest invasion in history. When in the village we will have an opportunity to enjoy a traditional lunch in the same pubs frequented by the men of the Easy Company over 60 years ago.

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day 4

Crossing the Channel

We begin our day in Portsmouth with a visit to the award winning D-Day Museum and Southwick House, the elegant country house which became the location of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force. In the months leading up to D-Day, Southwick House became the headquarters of the main Allied commanders: Allied Supreme Commander, General Eisenhower; Naval Commander-in-Chief, Admiral Ramsay; and the Army Commander-in-Chief, General Montgomery. Large wall maps that were used in planning D-Day are still in place in the house, with markers showing the positions of the involved forces at the moments of the first landings. After our visit to Southwick House, we board the cross-channel ferry to France.

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day 5

Fortress Europe

At the start of the invasion several members of Easy Company landed in and around Ste-Mere- Eglise, including Richard Winters, Carwood Lipton and Bill Guarnere. Here we begin our historical tracings of the 506th in France. This is where Dick Winters took command after the tragic death of Lt. Thomas Meehan. From Ste-Mere-Eglise we follow the route Lieutenant Winters and a handful of men took on the first night of the invasion to Brecourt Manor. In 1944, the manor was the site of a German battery that threatened the invasion beaches at Utah.

From the manor we proceed to Utah Beach and the Utah Beach Museum. From Ste. Marie-du- Mont, we will travel past Dead Mans Corner, and into Carentan, the Norman town that was one of the Allies earliest objectives. We will see the site of Easys battle as they entered the town on June 12, and the square from which General Maxwell Taylor presented awards to his men for their gallant performance during the invasion.

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day 6

Normandy Coast

Rising early the next morning, we will drive to Omaha Beach where the Americans took the German fortifications after a stupendous fight. The six-mile wide invasion beach is surrounded by cliffs that made the landing and attack extremely difficult. Landings here were necessary in order to link with British landings to the east at Gold Beach with the American landing to the west at Utah Beach, thus providing a continuous foothold on the Normandy coast. Very little went as planned during the landing at Omaha Beach. Many landing crafts missed their targets throughout the day. German defenses were strong, and inflicted heavy casualties on US troops. Losses were especially high in the first wave of landings; there were 2,400 casualties on Omaha Beach alone. We will study the battlefield and hear accounts of the action, cross the beach, analyze the maps and imagine the courage that saved our freedom that day.

Today the American Cemetery stretches along the bluff overlooking Omaha Beach. It covers 172 acres, and contains the remains of American military dead, most of whom were killed during the invasion of Normandy and ensuing military operations in World War II. The names of the Americans who lost their lives in the conflict but could not be located and/or identified are inscribed on the walls of a semicircular garden at the east side of the memorial. We will spend some time at the cemetery to pay our respects.

In the afternoon we will visit the bridge over the Caen Canal, today called Pegasus Bridge after the symbol of the British airborne forces. Pegasus Bridge, captured by a gliderborne company of the 6th Division British Airborne Troops, was the first engagement of D-Day, and the turning point of World War II.

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day 7

Remember September

Today we will study Operation Market Garden, the largest airborne operation of the war. In broad daylight, the 101st Airborne Division parachuted into Holland in a bold strike in order to seize bridges across rivers and adjacent canals from Belgium to Arnhem. From there we will head to Son, location of the 506th’s drop zone and the bridge over Wilhelmina. Under the command of Col. Sink, their mission was to capture the bridge over the Wilhelmina Canal and then advance south to Eindhoven. We will then follow the companys route into Eindhoven and visit Saint Catherines church where many of the original liberators gathered in September 1944. Our last stop of the day will be the Veghel battle site, where all of the 101st Airborne Division fought to keep Hells Highway clear of enemy troops.

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day 8

In Holland Where They Stand

Our travels continue along Hells Highway, the route followed by the British XXX Corps as it attempted to reach its embattled 1st Airborne Division, in Arnhem. Our travels will also take us to the famous bridge over the Rhine that was the objective of Operation Market Garden, the Bridge of Nijmegen.

Following lunch at the De Westerbouwing restaurant, which in 1944 was a German observation position, we travel to the Island, a 5-kilometer strip of land between the Neder Rijm and the Waal and the northernmost point of Allied territory. While at the Island, we will visit the E Company positions during the month-long stalemate at the end of Operation Market Garden. After a stop at Tor Schoonderlogt, a farm which was the 2nd Battalion Headquarters, we will visit Easy Companys jump off point for Operation Pegasus, a mission to rescue trapped British paratroopers.

We will walk the site of the fight at the Crossroads, where E Company attacked and destroyed a company of elite SS soldiers, preventing over 300 German soldiers from joining an attack on the 506th regimental headquarters. You will stand in the very spots where American and German forces stood, and will understand what Stephen Ambrose meant when he said that the best way to understand history is to study the places it was made.

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day 9

Bastogne

Our next stop is Bastogne, Belgium, the site of the divisions epic eight-day stand against the Germans in December 1944. Along the way we stop at the American Battle Monuments Commissions Netherlands American Cemetery and Memorial at Margraten to pay our respects at the graves of Easy Company men killed in Holland and Belgium. In Bastogne we visit the Battle of the Bulge Museum and General Anthony McAuliffes headquarters during the siege.

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day 10

The Bois Jacques and Beyond

Saturday starts with a visit to the Bois Jacques, Halt Station and Easy Companys foxholes overlooking the village of Foy. From Foy we will follow the companys route through Recogne, stopping to visit the German cemetery, Cobru, Noville and Luzory. We conclude our day at the American Cemetery in Luxembourg, where General George S. Patton is buried with members of his 3rd Army.

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day 11

The Last Patrol

From Bastogne we head to Fort Simserhof, a beautifully preserved Maginot Line fortification, and a visit to the Muse de la Fortification du Simserhof. Our day concludes with a visit to Hagenau, the site of some of Easy Companys final battles and several daring patrols.

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day 12

Why We Fight

On April 29, 1945, as they advanced into the Bavarian Alps, Easy Company liberated a satellite of the Dachau concentration camp at Landsberg. We will visit Dachau, site of some of the most nefarious acts of and against humankind during the war, as we travel south through Bavaria. Constructed in a disused gunpowder factory, Dachau was the first concentration-style camp after which all subsequent concentration camps were modeled. In total, over 200,000 prisoners from more than 30 countries were housed in Dachau, with at least 30,000 registered prisoners are believed to have died in the camp and its subcamps: notably Jews, resistance fighters, clergymen, politicians, communists, writers, artists and royalty. The second camp liberated by British or American forces, Dachau was one of the first places where the west was exposed to Nazi brutality.

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day 13

The Eagle's Nest

Our study of Easy Company battlefields ends at Adolf Hitlers Alpine retreat at Berchtesgaden, where we will visit the Eagles Nest and the remains of the vast Nazi Party complex liberated by Easy Company in May 1945. Eagles Nest was built as a 50th birthday present to Hitler from the Nazi party. Perched at 6017 feet, the Eagles Nest and the road network leading to it were considered feats of engineering as they were completed in only 13 months time in 1937-38.

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day 14

Points

As it did for the men of Easy Company, our travels will end at Zell am See and Kaprun, Austria, where they celebrated the anniversary of their jump into Normandy with a parachute drop into the waters of the Zeller See Lake. In the evening we will have a final special banquet, where we can reflect on our trip and the Band of Brothers role in securing victory in Europe.

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day 15

Going Home

Depart our hotel in Berchtesgaden for Munich and our flight back home.

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