[Categories TRAVEL, PHOTOGRAPHY.]
(I’ll explain A-P but not A-Z before I finish.)
Officially it is the “Following in Their Footsteps, Part II” tour. ‘They’ are the U.S. Army 104th Infantry Division. The footsteps are their 9 months of battle in Europe during WWII from aproximately Sep. 1944 to May 1945.
Some basic definitions for the unfamiliar:
The 104th Inf. Div. is nicknamed the Timberwolves and their shoulder patch is the head of a howling wolf.
Unit veterans are called ‘Timberwolves’ and their descendants are called ‘Timberwolf Pups’ like PFC Jamieson and Mary Jamieson mentioned above.
For a long time sizable groups of 104th veterans and their families have visited the European battlefields. (Subsequent generations of Dutch and Belgians in battlefield areas continue to honor the memory of WWII living and fallen. The extent to which they appreciate their liberation and freedom to this day is a noble example to all of us. There are numerous small monuments to the 104th in towns in southwest Holland as well as streets name ‘Timberwolfstraat’.
As the number of living vets lessened the National Timberwolves Association was deactivated and the National Timberwolves Pups Association has taken its place.
Tour groups are a bit smaller now and largely consist of Pups, family, and friends, with a few hale and hearty vets still going.
Milspec Tours assembles and organizes the tours, as they do for other military unit veterans.
Patrick Hinchey, tour manager and guide mentioned above, has been the guide for the last 2 tours M’lady and I attended (Oct. 2011 and May 2010) and many before that. He is an Englishman, U.K. resident, and the proverbial fountain of knowledge for all things historical, both military and European. He could be a Rhodes Scholar but I think he studied Business at Oxford (apologies if that isn’t correct). Our dedicated bus tour is a non-stop education whether on the road or at stops.
Here is Mary’s intro summary of the tour, and the first few days agenda:
We go on the tours because m’lady’s father is a living Timberwolf WWII veteran. We traveled with her parents on the May 2010 tour which started in Switzerland and included a 4-day Rhine River cruise.
We are not the meticulous WWII historians that some are though we too appreciate our freedom and we like that the tours include a decent amount of general sightseeing, which Patrick knows plenty about also.
I personally think it is important to honor the memory of past struggles for freedom in order to keep the appreciation of present and future freedoms alive. ‘Lest we forget’ or take it for granted, freedom is a delicate flower that must be tended and nurtured constantly. WWII might arguably be the last war the U.S. participated in with a very clear goal in mind and a clear, postive outcome.
As for A to P but not Z (AMS to PRA but not ZAG), the Timberwolves Tour is from Amsterdam to Berlin (1-14 May, not 1-15 May). M’lady and I are spending an extra day and night in Berlin and continuing to Prague for 3 nights before returning to the U.S.
Phew! We haven’t even left yet and I’m talking too much! Posts during the trip will have more pictures and a lot less text, hopefully not too much of either.
(For the tech oriented I’m posting on WordPress.Com using an iPad2 and accessing WordPress in Safari, using the Text Tab in WordPress editing. Links to the post will be placed on the Timberwolves Facebook page.)
Tuesday we depart for Amsterdam, arriving Wednesday morning due to time zones. See you there!