Team

Your entertaining and enlightening historical vacation begins with the expert Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours team in New Orleans, who work together to make your trip a seamless experience from the very beginning. Our home base staff includes one of our historians, Director Mark Bielski, who can answer any questions you may have about the historical aspects of our American history, Civil War, World War II, WWI, D-Day and Band of Brothers® tours.

Full-time Historians

Stephen Ambrose always said that the best way to understand history is to study the places where it was made. Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours has the most qualified historians lead our historical, WWII, WWI, D-Day and Band of Brothers® Tours. Our historians are leaders in their field and world-renowned authors. Their extensive research and interviews with thousands of WWII and D-Day veterans on the very battlefields where they fought gives a soldier’s perspective to our tours.

Exclusive Local Guides

Because we were founded by Stephen Ambrose, we have long-standing relationships with the very best local guides in the countries in which we operate (we have been working with our beloved bus driver for 20 years!). As part of our expert team, they ensure that we can offer you exclusive opportunities to visit historic places and other sites that were crucial in WWII, something that no other WWII, D-Day or Band of Brothers® Tour company can offer.

Experienced Tour Escorts

Our American history, Civil War, WWII, WWI, D-Day and Band of Brothers® Tours always have a full-time, experienced tour escort, who is available to answer your questions and take care of any special requests you may have during your tour.

Our Tour Historians

Ron Drez

Ronald Drez is an award-winning and best-selling author and historian. With Stephen Ambrose, he designed the original D-Day to the Rhine tour. Dr. Ambrose hand-picked his Eisenhower Center deputy to lead those tours, and to develop other tours like the Band of Brothers® Tour and The Italian Campaign Tour. Drez, a decorated Marine combat veteran from the Vietnam War, was the first to encounter the now legendary Band of Brothers in 1988, and has interviewed over 4,000 WWII veterans, showcasing their stories in his many writings: see www.ronalddrez.com. His passion and enthusiasm leave our guests with the memories of a lifetime. To quote one of our travelers, “Ron Drez was the history professor you wanted in college, but couldn’t get because his classes were always full. His stories are fascinating.”

historian Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson

Chris Anderson is a historian who is well versed in many aspects of American history with special expertise in the Normandy Invasion, Band of Brothers, and 101st Airborne as well as the American Revolution. As the former editor of WWII Magazine he edited and wrote about all areas of the U.S. involvement in that war. Chris was also one of the original creators of the Stephen Ambrose Band of Brothers® Tour and was a personal confidant of Major Dick Winters, commander of Easy Company, as well as many other veterans of WWII. Chris is the co-host of the History Happy Hour livestream. He lives in London, where he chronicles his visits to the places where history happened and the fascinating people he meets along the way in his blog, History Hikes

James Arnold

James Arnold

James R. Arnold is the author of over thirty military history books, ten of which are Civil War studies.  His work devoted to the Civil War ranges from Jeff  Davis’s Own: Cavalry, Comanches, and the Battle for the Texas Frontier, a study of how pre-war experience shaped the future conduct of prominent Civil War generals, to  a six-volume library reference set for young adults. He has also written two historical novels about the war, The Cost of Freedom and Freedom’s Children.  For the past 25 years, Arnold and his wife have lived on a working farm near Lexington, Virginia.

Historian Rick Beyer

Rick Beyer

Rick Beyer is an award winning documentary filmmaker, New York Times best-selling author, and long-time history enthusiast. His most recent book, Rivals Unto Death, explores the intricate thirty-year rivalry between Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr.

Rick has been researching the Ghost Army for more than a dozen years, and has led our Ghost Army Tour since 2014. He produced and directed the award-winning PBS documentary The Ghost Army, and co-wrote (with Liz Sayles) of The Ghost Army of World War II. The book is now being developed as a Hollywood movie by the producers of American Sniper.

Over the last 20 years Rick  has made numerous history documentaries for The History Channel, National Geographic, the Smithsonian Institution, and others. He is the author of thef The Greatest Stories Never Told series. He has shared his unique take on history with audiences around the country and appeared on CBS News, Fox News, NPR, CNN and elswhewere. A graduate of Dartmouth College, he lives in Chicago. 

Historian Mark Bielski

Mark Bielski, Ph.D., Director

Mark Bielski, Ph.D. brings a wealth of professional experience in academics, journalism and executive management to Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours, where he is involved in business development, guiding, lecturing and tour itinerary design. His ability to relate history in an engaging way coupled with his warmth and sense of humor, make him a favorite among our guests who have traveled with him. Mark has personally designed the WWII: Poland and Germany, D-Day to Berlin and the Civil War tours. 

He also hosts the History with Mark Bielski Podcast, where he and his guests, experts in their field, delve into the characters, backstories and intrigues that drove events throughout history. He has published two books on the Civil War, Sons of the White Eagle in the American Civil War: Divided Poles in a Divided Nation, and A Mortal Blow to the Confederacy: The Fall of New Orleans, 1862. He is currently working on an analysis of key victories as well as an historical novel about the Civil War.

Mark is an Adjunct Professor of History at Tulane University, where he teaches a class on American insurrections. He received his Ph.D. in history at the University of Birmingham, England and has a B.A. from Tulane University and an M.A. from Georgetown. 

Steve Bourque, Ph.D.

Stephen A. Bourque is Professor Emeritus of military history at the School of Advanced Military Studies, Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. He left the U.S. Army in 1992 after twenty years enlisted and commissioned service, with duty stations in the United States, Germany, and the Middle East. Dr. Bourque has taught at several colleges and universities including California State University-Northridge, the University of Kansas, and the Command and General Staff College. He has led more than twenty civilian tours and military staff rides in Europe and the United States.  His publications including Jayhawk! The VII Corps in the 1991 Persian Gulf War, The Road to Safwan Soldiers’ Lives: The Post-Cold War Era, Beyond the Beach, the Allied War Against France (2018), and most recently D-Day 1944: The deadly failure of Allied heavy bombing on June 6 (2022).  His “Tubby,” Raymond O. Barton and the US Army, 1889-1963 (University of North Texas Press), is scheduled for release in 2024. 

Matt Broggie

Matt Broggie has been working with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours since the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in 2014. He has extensive knowledge of WWII battlefields and writes for WWII History Magazine. Matt earned his B.A. in History from California Lutheran University and his M.A. in Military History from Austin Peay State University in Clarksville, Tennessee. At Austin Peay, he focused his study on WWII and wrote his thesis on the D-Day invasion of Utah Beach and the ensuing campaign to capture the port at Cherbourg. Matt graduated with honors and earned the distinguished graduate award in his class. He taught U.S. and World History to students at Austin Peay as well as soldiers of the 101st Airborne Division through the university’s campus at Fort Campbell. Matt is currently earning his doctorate from the University of Birmingham (UK) and writing a dissertation on the 4th Infantry Division’s combat experience in Normandy.

Historian Casey Brower

Charles Brower, Ph.D.

A graduate of West Point, General Charles (Casey) Brower, USA, Ret. received a Master of Arts degree in American History and a Doctorate in diplomatic and strategic history from the University of Pennsylvania. Among assignments over his Army career he served in Germany, Vietnam, and as Army Aide to President Ronald Reagan. He has taught history and strategy at West Point, the Naval War College, and the Virginia Military Institute and has led groups to Normandy and other European battlefields for over two decades. Casey has published books and articles on American history and World War II. He is the former Deputy Superintendent for Academics and Dean of the Faculty and Professor Emeritus of International Studies and Political Science at VMI.

Historian Jonathan Carroll

Jonathan Carroll

Jonathan Carroll is a Ph.D. Candidate in Military History and a Lecturer with the Department of History at Texas A&M University. Jonathan teaches courses on U.S. Military History, European Military History, Western Civilization and U.S. Social and Political History from 1865 to the Present and a major focus of his teaching is the First and Second World Wars. A native of the Republic of Ireland, and an avid violinist, Jonathan served for 12 years in the Irish Defence Forces, and has a book coming out on contemporary Irish defense policy. Jonathan has worked as a historian on the Band of Brothers Tour, the Overlord Tour, and the D-Day to the Rhine Tour. In his spare time he wanders the battlefields of Europe in search of new stories to tell and has a particular interest in the Allied Airborne and Amphibious operations in the European Theater of the Second World War. Jonathan is currently working on writing the first military history of the U.S. and U.N. military intervention in Somalia from 1992-1995, known primarily for the 15-hour Battle of Mogadishu, the “Black Hawk Down” incident. Jonathan often dwells on the irony that he is an Irishman, in Texas, writing a book on Somalia, who also works as a battlefield historian on tours across Europe.

Federico Ciavattone

Federico Ciavattone has a PhD in Modern History. Currently is a Professor for the Italian Ministry of Education, University, and Research, he is also Director of the Center for the Study of the History of Italian Military Parachuting. He collaborates with the Italian Military Institutions, particularly with the Italian Army. On behalf of the Army Training and Doctrine Command, he is a Professor of Military History with application in the field through Battlefield Tour and Staff Ride. He collaborates with the Army Editorial Board, for which he edited the texts of the Check Point Pasta and UNOSOM Mission Exhibition 1993-2003. As a military historian, he carries out activities with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. He regularly participates in history conferences, both in Italy and abroad. His research topics concern modern history, military and war history, and gender history. He is the author of numerous monographs, research contributions, and articles, both in Italian and English. We recall the most recent: Paratroopers. History of Italian Airborne Units (Edizioni Storia Militare); Arditi in Sicily. 10th Arditi Regiment during the Sicilian Campaign. July-August 1943 (Mattioli 1885). He is the author of some documentaries, among which Cefalonia 1941. The first war launch of the Italian paratroopers (2021): Paratroopers! History of a specialty (2022); El Alamein (2022). He has several upcoming projects, including the documentaries Lebanon 1982-1983 and Paratroopers and Arditi in the summer of 1943. He is a member of the Italian Society for Military History and the American Society for Military History.

Edna W. Cummings, Colonel, U.S. Army (Retired)

Col. Cummings is an Army brat and native of Fayetteville, NC. She received her commission in the U.S. Army from Appalachian State University’s Army ROTC program in Boone, NC. Afterward, she embarked on a distinguished 25-year military career culminating with senior-level positions at Georgetown University, the Pentagon, and NORAD/USNORTHCOM.

Since 2018, Col. Cummings has worked to bring recognition to the WWII Women’s Army Corps unit designated as African American, the 6888th Central Postal Directory Battalion, also known as the Six Triple Eight. During WWII, the 6888th was the only African American WAC unit to serve overseas. She also championed the effort with Congress to enact the passage of the Six Triple Eight Congressional Gold Medal Act. In March 2022, President Biden signed the legislation into law awarding the 6888th the nation’s highest civilian honor.

Col. Cummings is a former member of ASU’s Foundation Board of Directors. She is a current member of the Military Advisory Board of the History Makers, the nation’s largest African American video oral history archive, and an Army Reserve Ambassador for the state of Maryland, a volunteer special government employee equivalent to a Major General (two-star) in the Armed Forces.

Col. Cummings holds a Master of Strategic Studies from Army War College and a Master of Science Degree in Foundations of Education from Troy State University. As an Army officer, she received the Defense Superior Service Medal, Meritorious Service Medals (three awards), Army Commendation Awards (four awards), Joint Service Commendation Award, Army Superior Unit, Reserve Forces Medal, Overseas Service Ribbon, National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Staff Identification Badge.

In March 2020, Col. Cummings was inducted into the Army Women’s Foundation Hall of Fame and the Military Officers Association of America selected her as one of its national Changemakers. In July 2022, she received the NAACP’s Jesse Brown Leadership Award. She is also a consultant for the upcoming 6888th Broadway bound musical.

Don Farrell

Don Farrell’s writing career began on Guam with the 1981 publication of The Americanization of Guam: 1898-1918, which was followed by The Sacrifice of Guam: 1919-1943 and Liberation—1944. He moved to Tinian in 1987, publishing the first History of the Northern Mariana Islands in 1991. In 2011, Don published History of the Mariana Islands to Partition. He is now completing a Modern History of the Northern Mariana Islands. His book Tinian and The Bomb chronicles the important and often overlooked role Tinian in the Mariana Islands played in the atomic bombing of Japan at the end of World War II. He has also written numerous magazine and newspaper articles on the history of the Mariana Islands.

Don credits his understanding of Marianas history to years of teaching and 35 years of government service on Guam and Tinian. He is also a member of the board of director of the CNMI Humanities Council and the CNMI Historic Preservation Review Board. Don is now in the process of publishing his own history of the Manhattan Project on Tinian.

Erik Flint

Erik Flint is our historian for the Operation Overlord Tour. He is the Director of the Lewis Army Museum at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Washington. A veteran of 30 years in uniform, Erik deployed twice to Iraq as a Combat Historian for the U.S. Special Operations Command History & Research Office and is currently a Lieutenant Colonel in the U.S. Army Reserve where he is a lead Command and General Staff Officer Course instructor. Erik holds a Bachelor’s degree in History from the University of Washington, a Master’s degree in International Land Warfare Studies from American Military University, and is currently working on a Doctorate in Modern History at the University of Birmingham in the United Kingdom. Erik resides in Tacoma, Washington with his wife Caroline, and his daughter Willow.

historian Len Fullenkamp

Leonard J. Fullenkamp

Colonel, U.S. Army (retired) Len Fullenkamp is professor of military history and strategy at the Army War College. He also taught history at West Point. Len served two combat tours in Vietnam. He has taken numerous army officers on study trips to European battlefields, including the Normandy landings, the Battle of the Bulge and Hurtgen Forest. He has also led groups to Waterloo, the Somme, Verdun, and other Napoleonic and World War I battles.

Parker Hills

Parker Hills served almost 32 years in the U.S. Army uniform in active and reserve components, and retired as a brigadier general, Mississippi Army National Guard in 2001. He owns Battle Focus, a leadership training company, and trains soldiers, Marines, airmen, tourists, and corporate leaders. He is the author of A Study in Warfighting: Nathan Bedford Forrest and the Battle of Brice’s Crossroads; co-author of the Vicksburg Campaign Driving Tour Guide; co-author with Edwin C. Bearss of Receding Tide: Vicksburg and Gettysburg; a contributor to Vicksburg Campaign: March 29-May 18,1863; and author of Vicksburg: Art of Commemoration

Historian Kevin Hymel

Kevin Hymel

Kevin Hymel is a Historian for the U.S. Army and lives in Arlington, Virginia. He is the author of Patton’s War: An American General’s Combat Leadership, Volume I, November 1942 -July 1944 and Patton’s Photographs: War as He Saw It. Kevin has served as a historian at the U.S. Army Combat Studies Institute at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas. He was also the Research Director for WWII History and Military Heritage magazines and has written numerous articles for each. His article “WAC Corporal Lena Derriecott and the 6888th Central Postal Battalion,” is being made into a movie by Tyler Perry.

Kevin has been a popular historian with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours for more than 15 years, and has appeared in numerous documentaries on the History Channel and American Heroes Channel. He received his Bachelor’s Degree from LaSalle University and Master’s Degree from Villanova University, both in History.

John Langellier

John Langellier, Ph.D.

Growing up in Tucson, Arizona, John Langellier, Ph.D. developed a passion for the story of the U.S. Army and the American Indians in the West. He spent twelve years with the U.S. Army, and another four with the U.S. Navy in various assignments including at the Presidio of San Francisco and U.S. Army, Europe. He has written scores of articles and dozens of books, including his most recent titles, Fighting for Uncle Sam: Buffalo Soldiers in the Frontier Army, The “Trapdoor” Springfield: From the Little Bighorn to San Juan Hill, and Scouting with the Buffalo Soldiers: Lieutenant Powhatan Clarke, Frederic Remington and the Tenth U.S. Cavalry in the Southwest.  

Presently, John is the Principal Investigator for a major study treating Buffalo Soldiers and the National Parks. He previously served as a founding team member for the Autry Museum of the American West, director of the Wyoming State Museum, and deputy director of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library. He has also taught at various institutions of higher learning, is a frequent public speaker, and has occasionally served as a consultant to television and motion pictures, beginning with Apocalypse Now. 

John holds a B.A. and M.A. from the University of San Diego in History and Historical Archaeology and earned his Ph.D. from Kansas State University with an emphasis on U.S. military history.  

David Livingstone, Ph.D.

David Livingstone is an Adjunct Professor of History at California Lutheran University in Thousand Oaks, California.  He holds a Ph.D. in European History from the University of California-San Diego and has more than ten years of experience leading study abroad tours to European First and Second World War battlefields.  He is fluent in German and has travelled to battlefields and historical sites throughout Western and Eastern Europe.  Dr. Livingstone retired in 2022 after a 34-year career in law enforcement as Chief of Police in Simi Valley, California.  Over the years, he has taught military and European history at several colleges and universities including California State University-Northridge and the United States Naval War College.  He is the author of the forthcoming book Militarization and Democracy in West Germany’s Border Police, 1951-2005 (Camden House) scheduled for publication in 2024.

Hugh MacDonald Buchanan

Specializing in London-based excursions and military history tours particularly focused on the British Army during the Napoleonic era and World War I on the Western Front, Hugh’s World War 2 journey began in 2013, delving into pivotal events like the Fall of France and the Dunkirk Evacuation. Hugh’s educational journey took him from attending Harrow School in London to obtaining his degree at University College London. He spent 23 years in the financial sector of London’s financial district, working for Enskilda Securities Ltd., N.M. Rothschild & Sons Ltd., and Taylor Young Investment Management Ltd. During this time, he indulged his passion for organizing excursions with friends, which eventually led to his transition into full-time freelance tour guiding. In 2006, he achieved the prestigious title of Blue Badge Guide of the Year. Now, he’s excited to turn a lifelong love for culture and history into his life’s work. Born in London in 1961, Hugh spent over four decades in the city before relocating to the picturesque countryside with his young family.

Martin K.A. Morgan

Martin K.A. Morgan is an author/historian who studies the American experience in World War II. He is the author of Down To Earth: The 507th Parachute Infantry Regiment in Normandy (Schiffer, 2004) and The Americans on D-Day: A Photographic History of the Normandy Invasion (Zenith Press, 2014). In addition to publishing, for 20 years now Martin has also appeared regularly on television programs relating to historical subjects on Discovery, National Geographic, History, The Weather Channel, Syfy, the Outdoor Channel, and The American Heroes Channel. With a background as a park ranger and a museum professional, his experience in public history paved the way for the publishing and broadcasting work he does today. He has been leading battlefield tours around the world since 2002.

David Murphy

David Murphy, Ph.D.

Dr. David Murphy is a graduate of University College, Dublin and Trinity College, Dublin. He teaches military history and strategic studies at Maynooth University in Ireland. He has lectured abroad at various institutions including the Dutch Military Academy, Breda, West Point Military Academy and the U.S. Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth. Widely published, his publications include Breaking Point of the French Army: The Nivelle Offensive of 1917 (2015) and Lawrence of Arabia (2011). He is a member of the Royal United Services Institute, an external examiner for King’s College, London and a fellow of the Royal Historical Society. In 2018-19, Professor Murphy was a visiting fellow with the Changing Character of War Programme at Oxford University. He has led tours and staff rides through many WWI and WII battlefields including the Somme, Ypres, Gallipoli, all of Normandy, Arnhem, Bastogne and Sicily.

David O’Keefe

David O’Keefe is an award-winning historian, professor, a former member of the Black Watch, and a best-selling author. Over a twenty-year career, he has doubled as an international television host, creator, writer, and producer of over twenty documentaries for History Television in Canada, History Channel in the US, and numerous other broadcasters worldwide. His groundbreaking documentary Dieppe Uncovered (and best-selling book One Day in August) forever changed our understanding of that tragic day and has been listed in the Critical History of History in Moving Pictures as one of the best historical films of all time – listed ahead of Steven Spielberg’s legendary series Band of Brothers. For his devotion to history, historical research, and efforts on behalf of Canadian veterans, O’Keefe has been decorated on two occasions by the Canadian Government with the Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal and a Ministerial Commendation from the Minister of Veterans Affairs. He lives in Rigaud on the border of Quebec and Ontario and teaches history at Marianopolis College in Montreal.

Dr. Gerald Prokopowicz

Gerald J. Prokopowicz, Ph.D.

Gerald J. Prokopowicz is the author of Did Lincoln Own Slaves? Frequently Asked Questions and Answers about Abraham Lincoln and All for the Regiment: The Army of the Ohio, 1861-1862 as well as the online host of Civil War Talk Radio. He served for nine years as the resident Lincoln Scholar at the Lincoln Museum, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where he helped create the award-winning exhibit, “Abraham Lincoln and the American Experiment,” and edited Lincoln Lore. Dr. Prokopowicz is a member of the Advisory Boards of the Lincoln Studies Center and the Lincoln Forum, and holds a law degree from the University of Michigan and a Ph.D. in history from Harvard University. He is currently a professor and chair of the history department at East Carolina University in Greenville, North Carolina.

General Johnny Rickett

Johnny Rickett

Johnny Rickett was born in Wales and entered Military Service in 1959. He became a regular in the Welsh Guards and left the Army as a Brigadier after 35 years. He has served all over the world principally in the Middle East, Far East, East Africa, Europe and the USA. He speaks Arabic, German and French fluently. Johnny saw active service in Aden, Northern Ireland and commanded his battalion in the Falklands War in 1982. His final job in the Army was Military Attaché in Paris where he began intense study of WWI and WWII.

After leaving the Army in 1994 he ran the Union Jack Club in London for 15 years. Since retirement he has been active in charity work as Honorary Life President of Veterans Aid and the President of Colonie Franco-Britannique near Paris. He is President of the RAF Air Cadets Squadron at Chipping Norton near his home and is a Freeman of the City of London.

While his passion is military history, his hobbies are shooting, fishing, falconry and gardening. He is married and has two children and three grand children.

 

Don Snow

Don Snow came to Whitman College in 2001 as the Arnold Professor of Environmental Studies. Since that time, he has helped to develop Whitman’s innovative program in the Environmental Humanities.  He teaches courses in the British-American nature writing tradition, the literature of place, and creative writing along with the field-based introductory course in Environmental Studies.  Prior to Whitman, Don taught at the University of Montana in both the Environmental Studies Program and the Forestry School.  For eighteen years, he directed the Northern Lights Research & Education Institute in Missoula and co-edited Northern Lights Magazine, a regional journal of place.  He has published six books – most of them collections of essays and articles on environmental history and conflict in the American West.   

 

 

Historian Hal Stearns

Hal Stearns, Ph.D.

Hal Stearns is a teacher, historian, outdoorsman and storyteller who has been a lifelong scholar of the American West. One of his loves is to retrace the Lewis and Clark Expedition from the Rocky Mountains to the Pacific Ocean. Hal has led Lewis and Clark tours across the expanse of the entire trail. He has presented a performance of William Clark to groups at the U.S. Capitol, Department of the Interior, and the Smithsonian, and was a speaker at 13 of the national signature events during the Commemoration of the Lewis and Clark expedition. He has spoken in 43 states, Japan, Korea, England, Germany, Argentina and Brazil. In 2012, Hal was recognized as one of Montana’s “Humanities Heroes” for his unique and expressive interpretation of the exploration and settlement of the American West. Among the boards on which he has served are the Nebraska and Montana Lewis and Clark commissions and the National Lewis and Clark Trail Heritage Foundation Board, and the Montana Coal Board.  Achieving the rank of General, Dr. Stearns spent 35 years in the Montana National Guard and retired as a brigadier general. He is a graduate of Officer Candidate School and attended the Command and General Staff College, National Defense University and the Army War College.

Historian Ashley Vance

Ashley Vance

Ashley Vance is a military historian with decades of experience in public history and storytelling. She is currently completing a Ph.D. in Military History at Texas A&M University. Her dissertation, “On the Brink of War: Building a Cold War Army in Germany, 1945-1959,” examines the end of World War II and the postwar occupation of Germany. Ashley is an expert in U.S. Army history, particularly in the areas of World War II and the early Cold War. She has written and given public lectures on a variety of Army history topics, including the soldier experience at the end of World War II, the U.S. Zone Constabulary in occupied Germany, and the Army’s racial integration program in the early 1950s. This fall, Ashley will be joining the historians at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in Washington D.C.

Mark Waycaster

Mark Waycaster is a highly esteemed historian and curator with a profound passion for military history, particularly centered on the pivotal Battle of Okinawa. His illustrious career has been marked by numerous awards and recognitions, from both military and civilian organizations. Waycaster’s primary research focus has revolved around the Battle of Okinawa, where he served as the curator of the Battle of Okinawa Historical Display in Okinawa, Japan. Beyond his professional commitments, Waycaster actively participates in esteemed professional organizations and currently holds the role of President of the Board of Directors for the Battle of Okinawa Historical Society. His influential career has also encompassed delivering impactful presentations, lectures, and keynote addresses on a wide array of military history topics, showcasing his expertise in subjects such as the War in the Pacific, the Battle of Iwo Jima, and the enduring consequences of the Battle of Okinawa. Mark Waycaster’s unwavering dedication to the preservation and dissemination of military history, particularly concerning the Battle of Okinawa, has left an indelible mark on the field.

Our Home Base

Yakir Katz, President

Yakir’s passion for history began as a student at the University of New Orleans in the 1980s where he met Professor Stephen E. Ambrose. He viewed Dr. Ambrose as a mentor and friend. Together they designed and planned the itineraries for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours over the course of two decades. Under Yakir’s leadership, the company has continued to carry on Dr. Ambrose’s legacy. His youth on a kibbutz in Israel, experience as an IDF paratrooper, and extensive travel in the U.S. and Europe have given Yakir a keen understanding of international cultures, travel, and the military. He has applied this experience and knowledge to help earn Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours the reputation for offering the highest quality historical and military tours in the United States and Europe. He lives in New Orleans with his wife, Edie Ambrose, and two daughters, one of whom he hopes will carry on his love for historical travel that he shared with Dr. Ambrose.

 

Edie Ambrose, Ph.D., Historian

Edie Ambrose, Stephen Ambrose’s niece, served as his teaching assistant at the University of New Orleans. She received her Ph.D. in history at Tulane University and helped her uncle with the formation and development of Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. Edie is a regular consultant to our team of historians and is instrumental in designing new tours to offer to our guests as well as in creating deeper historical perspectives for our existing tours. She currently teaches American History and Western Civilization at Southeastern Louisiana University.

Terri A. Sercovich, MBA, Vice President

Terri has been with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours since 2014, during which she has developed tours, managed operations, and spearheaded the implementation of customer service policy.  In 2018, Terri produced the Leadership in American History Symposium and Historic New Orleans Tour. Terri brings both a love of travel and a deep appreciation for the military to her work. She has lived in Nice, France and along the Dalmatian Coast of Croatia. A native of Louisiana, she comes from a family who have proudly served in the armed forces. Her grandfathers, uncles, father and brother have represented almost every branch of the military from WWII to Korea, Vietnam and Iraq. Prior to joining SAHT, Terri spent 10 years as an award-winning reporter, photographer, and managing editor, covering modern historical events, including Hurricane Katrina and the BP Oil Spill. 

Historian Mark Bielski

Mark Bielski, Ph.D., Director, Historian

Mark brings a wealth of professional experience in academics, journalism and executive management to Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours, where he is involved in business development, guiding, lecturing and tour itinerary design. He received his Ph.D. in war studies at the University of Birmingham, England. His ability to relate history in an engaging way coupled with his warmth and sense of humor, make him a favorite among our guests who have traveled with him. Mark has personally designed the WWII: Poland and Germany, D-Day to Berlin and The Civil War Eastern Theatre tours. The privileges and pleasures of Mark’s work are having the opportunity to interview and travel with numerous veterans and their families from WWII, the Korean conflict and Viet Nam.

Operations Director Claire Aubrey

Claire Aubrey, Operations Director

Claire brings an impressive expertise in travel logistics, as well as a love of culture, to her position as Operations Director for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. As the daughter of a Ballerina of the Paris Opera, Claire learned to speak French before English while growing up in Louisville, KY. She has traveled and lived in France, spending months in Nice before moving to New Orleans as a teenager. Her fluency in French and understanding of the culture has been an asset in booking hotels, chateaux and transportation on our WWII tours. Her extensive experience in the hospitality and travel industry includes working at the Beverly Wilshire hotel in Hollywood and Embassy Suites in Atlanta, as well as 20 years as the Director of Operations for Spectacular Sports Specials, where she organized tours to major events throughout the world—Super Bowl, Masters, Final Four, Kentucky Derby, All-Star game, World Cup Soccer and the Olympics.

Olga Degtjarewsky, Operations

Olga Degtjarewsky, Operations

Having studied abroad in Florence, lived in Thailand, and gallivanted through Europe, Russia, Asia, Africa and Greece, travel is second nature to Olga. She worked in Sales & Catering at the Westin Hotel in Long Beach, CA, prior to moving to Louisiana. There she worked closely with meeting planners to make sure their events went off successfully. She helped handle organizations as large as FIFA and Boeing, to smaller events such as weddings. So it was only natural that when she decided to settle down in New Orleans to be part of its rebirth post-Katrina, that Olga would accept a position with Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. While her degree may be in Art History, it is history that she has fallen in love with since joining the company. Olga handles all of the logistics for the tours, making each one a seamless experience for our guests. 

Carmen Ruiz, Payment Processing and Customer Service

Carmen loves to travel! She has visited England, Spain, France, Australia, New Zealand and numerous states in the United States. She also loves to cook and to eat, one of many reasons New Orleans is the place for her. Carmen says, “I love working for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours. Getting to help people travel and visit exciting historical sites is great.”

Jenni DeLong, Tour Operator and Customer Service Representative

Jenni began her career at Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours during the busy 75th Anniversary of D-Day period, working both a customer service representative and tour operator. She has a background in Art History, French Culture and Elementary Education, as well as in the film industry, experiences that have helped her hone her skills in both travel logistics and guest relations. She is the jack of all trades on staff and can easily assimilate into any role. After the busy 75th Anniversary Tours, she found her stride in Guest Relations. Her knowledge of culture and travel is an asset for many guests. 

Talia Ambrose, Customer Service

Talia is the third generation of Ambroses to work in our family owned company. She has fond memories of family vacations with her Uncle Chup (Stephen Ambrose), and has traveled throughout Europe, the Middle East and even some parts of the Pacific. Talia followed in her father’s footsteps and served three years in the Israeli Army as a sharpshooter before coming home to New Orleans to start working at SAHT. She has traveled on the Iwo Jima tour and the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion tours. She is learning operations and customer service, while helping at the office.