In August 2009, I had the rare opportunity to walk where my Grandfather, and countless others walked. From the landing beaches of D-day, following the path of the 79th Infantry and 314th Infantry Regiment across France, I caught a glimpse, perhaps, of how his 5 months on the front lines made him undergo a transformation from an apprehensive novice into a battle-tested veteran. Visiting the dark forests where empty foxholes tell haunting stories. Walking where the daily life of soldiers led, where they were locked in gruesome events far beyond their experience. Walking where they fought side-by-side under fire, suffered wounds, agonized over the deaths of friends, enduring true suffering and sacrifice. From Utah Beach to his final resting place in the American Cemetary at Epinal, France, this was my journey.
Day 5: Luneville
We started out the day visiting the Château de Lunéville. On January 2, 2003, fire broke out and destroyed much of it, including the museum, chapel, and reception hall. A renovation project is underway, and scaffolding hides much of its exterior. In the courtyard is an equestrian statue of General Lasalle. From there we went to the City Hall and met with the Mayor, Deputy Mayor, and a journalist from the local paper. After a quick interview regarding my grandfather's story and my trip, we went back out to the 314th Memorial and took a number of pictures. Click on the picture to view the article. After another lunch at the Garrison, I headed to what Philippe would only call a "surprise". We stopped at a large parking lot/parade ground just inside the gates of the Garrison where I was quickly surrounded by almost 40 American WW2 vehicles of varying types and sizes. Jeeps, ambulances, and more! Even went for a ride around Luneville with Richard Pascal at the wheel, in a classic Willis Jeep! What a way to end the day!
US tanks line a street in Luneville, France
That day, I bid adieu to Philippe and Gerard, but knew that I had made some lasting friends. Vive la France!
79th ID Map, Luneville