WW2 veteran on our tour

Update from a special Band of Brothers Tour - Part 2

Mr. Appel celebrated by the visitors of the Normandy American Cemetery (Photo: Joseph Neri)

In today’s newsletter, we will continue the life story of World War II veteran, Mr. Jack Appel and our update from his recent trip on one of our 11-day Band of Brothers Tours. First, let’s continue exploring his life during and after WWII. He was in Belgium when the last major German counteroffensive on the Western Front, the Battle of the Bulge, was launched on December 16, 1944. In April 1945, he and his unit liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp. Going through the camp, seeing the stacked dead bodies and the dying inmates was one of the most horrible experiences of the war and his whole life. His unit was near Weimar, Germany in May 1945 when the war ended. They left Germany in June and were shipped out from Camp Lucky Strike at Le Havre, France back to the States on a troop ship. Upon arrival in New York, their first meal was steak, French fries, Coca Cola, and ice cream, which everyone found marvelous. It was special to see the Statue of Liberty again. Following a service of two years, ten months, and eleven days, he was discharged from the Army on October 11, 1945. Later, Appel worked as a Wall Street broker. For his efforts during his military career, he became a Knight of the French Legion of Honor in 2008. He comes back to Europe whenever he can. He is 98 years old now.

Mr. Appel during WWII

(Photo: Forever Young Veterans - Facebook) Mr. Appel during WWII

Although he attended many tours in Europe earlier, Mr. Appel was surprised to see several new developments on the next phase of the tour in Bastogne, Belgium where the 101st “Screaming Eagles” Airborne Division fought heroically against the German forces surrounding them during the Battle of the Bulge. He was surprised to see a large photo of his younger self on the wall of the Bastogne townhall located on the main street. It turned out that a photo taken during the 75th anniversary of the Battle of the Bulge is also on display at the U.S. Embassy in Brussels. On top of that, he discovered the same photo of him at the Bastogne War Museum where he was flooded with gifts by the staff of the museum.

Mr. Apple shaking hands with a young Belgian boy in front of his WWII photo at the townhall in Bastogne (Photo: Author’s own)
Mr. Apple shaking hands with a young Belgian boy in front of his WWII photo at the townhall in Bastogne (Photo: Author’s own)

In Bastogne, the group was guided by our local guide, Mr. Henri Mignon, Mr. Appel’s old friend. He was a child during the Battle of the Bulge and his father was killed in a German shelling. He is a Belgian veteran himself, too. At the vehicle exhibition hall of Bastogne Barracks, they have looked at together the vehicles Mr. Appel drove during the war.

Mr. Appel with our local guide and fellow Belgian veteran, Henri Mignon at Bastogne Barracks (Photo: Author’s own)

The group also visited the Luxembourg American Cemetery in the vicinity of Luxembourg City. Following a walk in the cemetery, along with other veterans and active service members, Mr. Appel attended a wreath-laying ceremony at the chapel of the cemetery to honor the memory of the 5,070 soldiers, including General George Patton, buried there.

The wreath-laying ceremony at the chapel of the Luxembourg American Cemetery  (Photo: Author’s own)
The wreath-laying ceremony at the chapel of the Luxembourg American Cemetery (Photo: Author’s own)

The tour’s closing segment featured a visit to the Dachau concentration camp and the Eagle’s Nest in Germany. On the whole tour, Mr. Appel was surrounded and celebrated by young and old alike on every site our group visited. His presence on the tour gave a special, once-in-a-lifetime experience not only to his fellow passengers but to our staff, too. It is a stark reminder that we must respect and value the presence of the ever-fewer veterans from the Greatest Generation still left with us. In 2022, less than 240,000 of the 16 million Americans who served in World War II are alive.

Mr. Appel at the Eagle’s Nest (Photo: Joseph Neri)
Mr. Appel at the Eagle’s Nest (Photo: Joseph Neri)

If you want to travel on the same type of tour Mr. Appel did, join us on our 9-day economic or 11-day all-inclusive Band of Brothers Tours. Book your seats as soon as possible because the most popular ones will get fully booked soon. If you have any questions about our tours, feel free to contact our travel consultants.

Mr. Appel in front of our bus (Photo: Author’s own)

Get a 10% discount on our 2023 and selected 2024 tours

Book your tour for 2023 or 2024 with only $490 registration fee and pay the tour price later, or save 10% early bird discount by paying in full for selected tours now. Please note that popular departure dates are filling up fast. In 2024 we celebrate the 80th anniversary of D-Day and those tours which include the commemorations will be sold out about a year before the tour, and alternative accommodations will not be available in Normandy either.

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"This tour was so moving, I was brought to tears"Band of Brothers Tour, 2022
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