11TH ARMORED DIVISION ASSOCIATION
63rd ANNUAL REUNION REPORT
AUGUST 11 THROUGH AUGUST 17, 2008
A very successful 2008 Annual Reunion of the 11th Armored Division Association was held on August 11 through August 17, 2008, at the Sheraton Braintree Hotel in Braintree, Massachusetts. The attendance was approximately 200, of which approximately 60 were World War II veterans.
The tour schedule began on Tuesday, August 12th, with a visit to historic Lexington, Massachusetts, which in 1775 was a quiet farming community. In the center of the village, a stop was made at Lexington Green. There, a monument marks the final resting place of eight patriots, who at dawn on April 19, 1775, were felled by British musket fire. That act incited the War for Independence, the Revolutionary War. Leaving Lexington Green, the bus followed the identical six mile route that Paul Revere and his companions took, in order to alert Concord village of advancing British troops. Along the way, the former residence of famed American poet Ralph Waldo Emerson was pointed out. At the Old North Bridge across the Concord River, colonial militia ambushed and fired on British troops. In Emerson’s famous poem, the Concord Hymn, it was described as: “The Shot Heard Round the World.” At the river crossing, an historically accurate replica of the original bridge now stands. The return trip to Braintree was routed through Cambridge, Massachusetts. Campuses of renowned higher education institutions, Cambridge College, Harvard University, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, were pointed out by the tour guides.
On Wednesday, August 13th, following meetings of the Old Board of Governors and the Planning and Dissolution Committee, a scrumptious buffet dinner was served during a three hour dinner cruise. The weather cooperated to make it a most enjoyable quiet and balmy evening. As the boat slowly circled the Boston Inner Harbor, city lights and the silhouetted city skyline were reflected in the shimmering waters of the bay. In all, it was an unforgettable experience.
On Thursday, August 14th, at the invitation of Mrs. Joanne Holbrook Patton, Green Meadows Farm was visited. Since 1928, it has been the home of the Patton family. Mrs. Patton and her sister, Mrs. Marian Roberson, entertained approximately 200 veterans, family, and friends. They are the daughters of 11th Armored Division CCA Commander, General Willard Holbrook. Joanne is also wife of the late Major General George Patton IV, and daughterinlaw of former Third Army Commander, General George S. Patton, Jr. All guests were made welcome by their gracious hostesses. The farm is beautiful, and the large farm house, parts of which date back to 1786, is a very welcoming and comfortable home. A large tent had been erected near the house, where a delicious catered buffet luncheon was served to the many guests.
The evening program on the 14th included three presentations. The first speaker was distinguished former US Cavalry Officer, Chris Golden. During the war in Vietnam, he was Commander of Troop F, 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment. Recipient of several leadership awards, he now serves as Senior Advisor to the United States Cavalry Association, as well as to the Armored Cavalry Museum Foundation. He also is a Liaison Officer for the 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, now serving in Iraq. Mr. Golden recalled actions of the 2nd Armored Cavalry Regiment, as a unit of Patton’s US Third Army during WWII. He also presented a slide show, illustrating the evolution of US armored vehicles and tanks, from World War II, up until the present day.
The next presentation was an address by famed author and historian, Dr. Anna Elisabeth Rosmus. A native of Passau, Germany, she related the story of her "selective education" while growing up in Passau, decades after the end of World War II. In school, she had been taught that Passau was a center of resistance to the Nazi movement during the Third Reich. In doing research for an essay, Anna uncovered denied and concealed truths about events that occurred in her home town during the Hitler era. She also spoke of her findings concerning combat in the Passau-Linz corridor during the closing days of the war in Europe. She described the liberation of Linz by troops of the 11th Armored Division, under the command of General Willard Holbrook. She also addressed the role of the 11th Armored Division in liberation concentration camps Mauthausen and Gusen, relations with the Soviet Army, and the post war problem of dealing with hordes of displaced persons.
Dr. Rosmus is a dedicated humanitarian, an active foe of neo-Nazism, and a leader in the battle against anti-Semitism, in all its ugly forms. Her life's work includes a number of books which document what actually happened there under Nazi rule. Her current work, now being prepared for publication, will be entitled "Ending Combat." It is an historical chronicle of the many events that occurred in Bavaria, Czechoslovakia, and Upper Austria, during and after the final weeks of the war in Europe. It will include discussion of the liberating role of US Third Army units, including the 11th Armored Division.
The final presentation of the evening was made by Mr. Jimmy Lichtman, a survivor of Mauthausen Concentration Camp, who was liberated by the 11th Armored Division on May 5, 1945. Mr. Lichtman, now a resident of Florida, expressed his appreciation to his liberators. He also described his treatment in incarceration, emigration to the United States, and his long and successful business career in his adopted country.
On Friday, August 15th, a guided coach tour of Boston visited many of the city’s historic and cultural sites, including the Shawmut Peninsula, site of the first Puritan settlement in 1630 . Also visited were the sites of the Boston Tea Party, the Boston Massacre, Boston Common, Old North Church, and Bunker Hill. A stop at Charlestown Navy Yard provided a visit to the historic sailing frigate, USS Constitution. First commissioned in 1797, she fought many sea battles, including one during the War of 1812, when British cannon shells, fired at point blank range, failed to penetrate her stout wooden hull. She is ever since known
as “Old Ironsides.” She remains a commissioned US Navy vessel, manned by a US Navy crew. Also docked and displayed at Charlestown Navy Yard is the USS Cassin Young, a Fletcher Class destroyer, which saw extensive action in the Pacific, and survived a crippling Kamikaze attack, as World War II neared its end.
Business conducted at the General Meeting on Saturday, August 16th included the election of Officers, modification of the Constitution and By-Laws, Structuring of the Planning and Dissolution Committee, and authorization of a 2009 Annual Reunion at the Wyndham Lyle Hotel in Chicago, Ill Other activities included informal get-togethers of Army Specialized Training Program (ASTP) veterans, Second Generation Association Members. and 705th Tank Destroyer Battalion veterans.
Closing activities included a very beautiful Memorial Service conducted by the Reverend L. Gordon Blasius, a New President’s Reception, and a Dinner Dance. Following the dinner banquet, a live orchestra played nostalgic music of the “Big Band era. The authentic musical numbers inspired fond memories of the past, prompting many veterans and their ladies to sing and dance to familiar tunes they know so well. It was a most appropriate end to the 2008 Annual Reunion of the 11th Armored Division Association.
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