36th Infantry Division Association

It Doesn't Get Any Better Than This

The 1998 Battlefield Tour
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Ray Wells
Company H
141st Infantry Regiment

Returning to Nice, the group followed the sea shore drive to Cannes, which is one of the most scenic routes along the French Coast. A brief stop was made at Cannes where some of the group headed for all places, "McDonalds" for coffee. Here we had an hour or so to get some walking in and visit one of the famous casinos.

Continuing on via the beautiful coastal road we were taken to the Villa of Legionnaire Albert Cohen a member of the American Legion Post 5 where this famous man hosted a reception for the entire group. More champagne, wine, all kinds of dainty sandwiches, caviar all served by three young French beauties. This setting for most of us was something we have seen only in movies. The villa overlooked Nice and the Mediterranean.

I must tell you about Albert Cohen. Not only was he a very successful and well to do business man, he was a genuine war hero. Mr. Cohen was an underground fighter and was credited with bringing a number of our downed pilots through the enemy lines to safety. A great man and very much respected by everyone.

Before leaving this beautiful setting the Mayor of the large City of Nice presented all of the Veterans in the Group with a souvenir commemorating the 50th anniversary of the liberation of his City. The ladies in the group also received a gift from the City of Nice, a pad containing writing material. This ended a wonderful and beautiful experience for all of us in Southern France. Again I heard "Things just can't get any better than this". We will soon see in the next few days if that statement was true.

Before continuing our journey, I think it appropriate to quote, in part, some of the speeches and newspaper articles celebrating our visit to this beautiful country. The following articles appeared in newspapers throughout France prior and during our visit:

American officer and French partisan crouch behind an auto during a street fight in a French city. Still Pictures Branch, National Archives

"Regional Information, Nice April 15, 1998, Veterans of the 36th American infantry Division will be in Nice France on the 22nd of April. A delegation of the 36th Division Veterans who participated in the landings in the Province on 15 August 1944 and the French Army of the Rhine et Danube who both followed the course of victory all the way to Austria will be in our region next week on Wednesday the 22nd of April. They will be welcomed by the American Legion and the French Army "Rhin et Danube".

I realize that this article is lengthy but to leave anything out would diminish the contribution of our armies to the liberation of France. The following is a speech made by Commander John Willms, Riviera Post 5 of the American Legion: "Today, we welcome the Veterans of the 36th Infantry Division and members of their families who have come to France to honor those who put aside their hopes, dreams and plans for the future to serve their country when asked to do. Let us keep in mind the enormous debt we owe the veterans of our nation and allies who fought, were wounded and/or disabled and those who made the supreme sacrifice to preserve our form of democracy not only for our nation but all who share our views on freedom. Your presence here today with veterans of the First French Army reminds us of our responsibility to remain vigilant, strong and united in the preservation of peace and freedom. Thank you for coming, may your "Battlefield Tour" be a rewarding experience and your journey through Europe be a safe one."
John Wilms, Commander of the American Legion Chapter, Nice France in the middle with the white hat during award ceremonies, Southern France. April 1998
This is just a sample of the heart warming speeches given in our honor everywhere our group traveled.

Friday, April 24, 1998, those who had signed up for just the Italian portion of the tour departed for home. We who remained missed them and as usual on tour attended by Veterans and their families a bond is formed among us and our friendship is even more solid than before.

As a point of interest we read in the newspapers and heard it on television of a terrible storm in Italy after we departed in the very vicinity where we had toured. Two days of heavy rains have caused torrents of mud and water through the streets in a 40 mile area from Naples down to Salerno in the South, killing in excess of 45 people, many missing and over 1,800 homeless.

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To contact the 36th Division Association
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