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WORLD WAR II PARATROOPERS

THE BOB SLAUGHTER OMAHA BEACH AND BEYOND TOUR

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Bob Slaughter is one of the few survivors of Company D, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, a unit in the first wave of the landings that hit the most heavily defended area of Omaha Beach on D-Day, the infamous Dog Green Sector. A sergeant at the time, he witnessed the horrific deaths of many of his friends, comrades and commanders, but lived through the carnage to fight on in Normandy. His experiences include the tremendous Battle of Saint-Lô, for which his battalion received a Presidential Unit Citation; at the very end of the Normandy campaign, he was severely wounded on 31 July for the battle of Hill 203, a ferocious battle which earned his battalion a second Presidential Unit Citation. Evacuated to England, Bob later returned to Company D and participated in the Battle of the Bulge, crossing the Roer River and fighting on into Germany.

 

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These events are at the heart of Omaha Beach and Beyond: The Long March of Sergeant Bob Slaughter (Zenith Press, 2006), which offers an exceedingly rare eye-witness account of what General Bradley, addressing the 116th Infantry just before Omaha Beach, called “the greatest show on earth.” Bob’s memoir, which also tells of his training in the National Guard and the elite (and little-known) 29th Rangers, is a detailed and highly readable record of the daily life of the average G.I. Joe caught up in extraordinary times, and how these men accomplished their equally extraordinary missions. The memoir contains many vivid scenes of some of the most ferocious and epic battles of our time; seamlessly incorporating a wealth of data, it pinpoints names, dates and places, and quotes many other 116th Infantry veterans. Representative, but also transcending the personal, the story attains an historical and cultural dimension found only in the very best memoirs.

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Just as importantly, The Long March shows how the author gradually was moved to break the heavy silence in which he, like so many other traumatized veterans, enclosed himself for many years after World War II. It is thus the record of an inner battle, an evolving consciousness and the will to change. The memoir opens in 1988, as Bob recounts his first emotional return to Omaha Beach. It then traces the difficult post-war process by which he gradually came to terms with the anguish of battle and personal loss by taking on an increasingly public role on behalf of other veterans.

This public role included the successful battle to establish a D-Day Memorial in the United States to honor all who fell on June 6th, 1944—a Memorial which now stands in Bedford, Virginia, near Bob’s hometown of Roanoke. Other important steps occur in France: on the 50th anniversary of D-Day, Bob is one of three veterans who walk across Omaha Beach with President Clinton; on the 60th Anniversary, his return to Normandy is the subject of a documentary for French National Television. On this occasion, Bob gives the key note address and leads a parade of veterans and local children in St-Lô; in Cherbourg, he meets with another machine-gunner like and unlike himself—the German Franz Gockel, who manned the defenses on Omaha Beach where so many of Bob’s friends and fellow soldiers died.

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At 6’5”, Bob Slaughter has always been a figure (almost) larger than life. Although I am sure he would be embarrassed to hear it said, he is also a national treasure. His status as a Survivor is almost iconic; certainly he is one of a small handful of surviving World War II infantrymen—there are perhaps three or four others—whose images represent the American Veteran in the national and international consciousness today. He has been the subject of dozens of documentaries and has appeared on major news channels in the United States and throughout Europe. And yet, one of the things that most strikes anyone who meets him is how humble he has remained. He has given interviews too numerous to mention to authors, journalists and film makers with no thought for personal fame or profit, but to bear witness to the deeds of his many fallen buddies and comrades-in-arms who could not speak for themselves. Doing so, he has become the voice of his generation, and part of the conscience of us all.

The publication of Omaha Beach and Beyond was yet another major step in the incredible journey of Sergeant Bob Slaughter. Pathfinder Tours is exceptionally pleased to partner with Bob to offer the exclusive “Bob Slaughter Omaha Beach and Beyond Tour,” led by the author. Come with us on a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to follow in the footsteps of one of America’s best-known war heroes. Step back in time to relive some of the most vital battles in modern history, as seen through the eyes of a rare survivor, and his regiment’s best-known spokesman. Retrace the steps of Bob’s “long march” with the 29th Infantry Division from Slapton Sands to Dog Green/Omaha Beach, and on to St. Lô, Vire, Hill 203 and beyond for an unforgettable nine-day journey. “29 Let’s GO!”

As you can see, this is a once in a lifetime opportunity to tour with Sgt. Bob Slaughter and visit where he and his fellow soldiers fought. Seize this opportunity to tour the battlefileds with this great American hero today!
 
This tour is scheduled for late September-early October. Firm dates are still to be set as is the price. This tour will be kept to a small group of 12-20 lucky individuals and slots are sure to fill up very quickly. If you are interested in being on this tour with Bob, please contact me so I can hold you a spot.
 

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