As it was when Dr. Ambrose was leading the D-Day to the Rhine Tour in the 1970s, we have only the most qualified historians lead our historical and WWII tours. Whether it is the history of WWII, the Civil War or Lewis and Clark, our historians are leaders in their field and world-renowned authors. They are also dedicated to making history come alive even when they are not leading tours – giving lectures, being interviewed, writing books, advocating for veterans.
Here’s a look at what some of our historians are have been up to when not on tour.
Historian Kevin Hymel
Kevin Hymel was recently in Los Angeles, California presenting a lecture on General George S. Patton’s photographs to the Young Presidents Organization (YPO). Kevin led a tour of European battlefields for a group of 20 YPO members last summer before the 75th Anniversary of D-Day tours. He spoke for about 45 minutes and took questions from the crowd. As he said, “I enjoy educating people about the historical topics that fascinate me, especially a group that asks such intelligent questions.” Before his lecture, Kevin was treated to a tour of Los Angeles by Mr. Rodney Scully. “It sure was nice to be the tourist and not have to count heads.”
While in Los Angeles he had the opportunity to visit the Huntington Library where they let him look at the copy of Adolph Hitler’s “Mein Kampf,” which General George Patton donated to the Library. It usually takes weeks to see this, but they graciously welcomed him after he showed them his book, “Patton’s Photographs: War As He Saw It.”
As an historian at Arlington National Cemetery, on October 14, Kevin helped nine Dutch paratroopers honor an American buried there, Sgt. Alexander Van Aalten who died trying to rescue one of the Dutch paratroopers from a southern Afghanistan mine field. Kevin brought the men to Van Aalten’s grave where they held a ceremony, with each man saluting Van Aalten’s headstone before departing. He then gave the paratroopers a tour of the cemetery, showing them President John F. Kennedy’s grave, the Tomb of the Unknown Soldeirs, as well as the graves of famous Americans, such as General Maxwell Ridgeway, who helped liberate the Netherlands, and General George C. Marshall, whom, as secretary of state, sponsored the Marshall Plan which helped revitalize war-torn Europe. After the tour, the paratroopers presented Kevin with a plaque of their unit. “It was an important and sobering day,” he said. “It would not have happened had I not led tours into the Netherlands for Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours.” (See photo above)
Kevin also recently sat down with a producer from the Science Channel’s “What on Earth?” and a cameraman and shot eight episodes for the series. They discussed World War II and Cold War ammunition bunkers, pirates, African-American sailors, and numerous anamolies found around the globe. “It was a fun time,” Kevin said, “and these guys were pros.” No air date has been set yet for the episodes.
Historian Mark Bielski
Mark Bielski, Ph.D. was recently interviewed by Bradley Jay on his radio show, Jay Talking (WBZ Boston), about The Cold War. This is the second time that Bradley, a big history buff, has had Mark on. This first time was to discuss the 80th anniversary of the beginning of WWII. You can listen to both interviews on the Jay Talking podcast on iHeart Radio.
Mark’s new book, “A Mortal Blow to the Confederacy: The Fall of New Orleans, 1862,” will arrive this December. This latest entry in the Emerging Civil War Series tells of the leaders and men who fought for control of New Orleans, the largest city in the South, the key to the Mississippi, and the commercial gateway for the Confederacy.
The timing perfectly coincides with the preparations for the siege of the South’s greatest city, New Orleans. The Union was about to enact their master plan for a massive naval attack from the Gulf of Mexico and the Confederate leadership squabbled over the best way to defend this vital port and economic center as well as control of Mississippi River.
History has not devoted a great deal of attention to the fall of New Orleans, a Civil War drama that was an early harbinger of the dark days to come for the Confederacy. We’ve read an advance copy and we can tell you: Mark’s gripping book is a must-read for those of you who are interested in Civil War and American history.
Historian Chris Anderson
Chris Anderson will also be a guest on Jay Talking on Tuesday, November 19, discussing the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge. Chris is one of the historians for our 75th Anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge Tour (there are still a few spots left!), and as many of you know, our expert on the Band of Brothers. To that end, he was recently interviewed in Talk Magazine about our Band of Brothers® Tour. We will share that article with you when it comes out in November.
In the meantime, in case you missed it, check out this post about Chris being honored by the current 506th Infantry Regiment by being made an HMOR (Honorary Member of the Regiment). He was recognized for his 30-plus years of service to the regiment; bringing veterans of the 506th back to visit their old battlefields; leading tours of 506th sites for friends and families of the regiment; writing extensively about the history of the 506th; and leading the effort to save the historic Aldbourne Stables and bring them to Toccoa, Georgia, where they became a centerpiece of the Toccoa Military Museum.
Historian Rick Beyer
As many of you know Rick Beyer has been hard at work, lobbying Congress to award the Ghost Army the Congressional Gold Medal. Fewer than 20 of the soldiers who served in this top secret unit are left. Now he needs your help to honor these unsung heroes by mobilizing. Every voice, including yours, must be heard. But how to go about it?
Rick has a page on his Ghost Army Legacy Project website that will walk you through the very easy steps about how to reach out to your representatives.
You can also watch his recent webinar, “Ghost Army Gold Medal: Rallying the SAHT Troops for the Troops!” that provides background on how a Congressional Gold Medal is awarded and what you can do to have this honor bestowed on the Ghost Army.
As one of the historians for our new Revolutionary War Tour, Rick will be hosting a webinar on the Revolutionary War on December 4 at 6:30CT. More details and a registration link coming soon!