One of the many things that makes our meticulously crafted Original Band of Brothers Tour® an experience unparalleled in its accuracy, is that we begin our tour in Toccoa, the training ground in the north Georgia woods where the bonding process among the men of the 506th began.
We visit the train station where recruits for the 506th first arrived, which now houses the Stephens County Historical Society – the Currahee Military Museum. After viewing their unique collection of artifacts and memorabilia from Camp Toccoa, 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.”
For those of you have traveled or will be traveling with us on our Band of Brothers Tour, as well as fans of Easy Company and armchair travelers, we are delighted to share this article about Toccoa that was published on the Aircraft Owners & Pilots Association website. Writer and photographer, Tom Snow, tagged along with our Band of Brothers Tour group led by senior historian Chris Anderson to explore the site of Camp Toccoa.
Go Back in Time at Easy Company Training Grounds: Toccoa, Georgia
By Tom Snow
Could you have qualified to become a World War II paratrooper? You can find out if you fly to Toccoa, Georgia, and challenge Currahee Mountain.
Following the 2001 debut of Band of Brothers, the 10-part HBO mini-series based on the 1992 Stephen Ambrose book of the same name, millions became familiar with the World War II history of “Easy Company,” 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.
However, there was nothing easy about volunteering to become a member of the famous World War II “Screaming Eagles” paratrooper corps, particularly if assigned to Company E at Camp Toccoa, a rustic training base located in northeast Georgia that operated from 1942 through 1945.
Retracing the famous “three miles up and three miles down” Currahee Mountain running course is a popular challenge today. Back then, it was one of the best ways to eliminate recruits who weren’t up to airborne standards. Those who dropped out of a run for any reason were automatically disqualified from the elite program and sent to a regular infantry unit. Of approximately 18,000 volunteers who arrived for three months of initial training at Camp Toccoa, about 6,000 completed the rigorous course and later earned their jump wings at Fort Benning, Georgia.
Easy Company played an important role in the D-Day invasion after parachuting behind enemy lines and taking out four German howitzers that were firing on Allied troops as they landed on Utah beach.
Company E went on to fight in Operation Market Garden, the Battle of the Bulge at Bastogne, and other crucial engagements. In addition, they liberated a Nazi concentration camp. With very few breaks and despite heavy casualties, their combat role continued until Germany’s surrender in 1945.
The city of Toccoa and the Stephens Country Historical Society are working to preserve the history of Camp Toccoa and Currahee Mountain. The area has become a popular destination for historians, tour groups, reunions, and especially veterans returning to visit their temporary “home” during training.
Very few “Toccoa men” are still alive to tell their story. However, a group of locals is working to reconstruct some parts of the camp, which was largely dismantled following the war.
Meanwhile, the Currahee Military Museum is well-established and hosts around 20,000 visitors a year. Located at the restored Toccoa train depot, it houses photos, documents, and memorabilia of the World War II paratroopers.
In early June we were fortunate to tag along with one of the quarterly Stephen Ambrose Band of Brothers Historical Tours, which brought a bus load of 22 people from all over the country to see where Easy Company first trained.
Led by historian Chris Anderson, the group was on the first day of a two-week international trip following the company’s history from Georgia to England, France, Holland, Belgium, and Germany. Having personally interviewed many Easy Company veterans over the years, Anderson has an encyclopedic knowledge of their history.
Foot races are often held on the mountain, and on the hot summer morning of our visit, we saw several hikers with families and at least one runner huffing up the hill.
If you’d like to see if you’ve got what it took to be a World War II paratrooper…
Band of Brothers Tour
Our Band of Brothers Tour is based on the first-hand and personal recollections of the paratroopers and the extensive research of Stephen Ambrose, who wrote the best-selling book, Band of Brothers, on which the miniseries was based as well as the research of our senior historians. Our 15-day tour begins in Toccoa, where the men of Easy Company began, and ends at Zell Am See, where the men of Easy Company celebrated the anniversary of their jump into Normandy by parachuting into the waters of Zeller See Lake.