This is my travelogue for the Stephen Ambrose Historical Tours event, “D-Day 75th - Patton’s 3rd Army Tour,” May 30–June 13, 2019. Since this is a very long report, I have broken it into four segments, as follows:
A word of explanation: as you can see from elsewhere on my website, I am mostly oriented toward the study of the American Civil War (check out the Civil War Page link on the left). I took this tour with the Stephen Ambrose organization for three reasons. First, I wanted to be a part of the group honoring the 75th anniversary in general. Second, my father, Hank Jespersen, went through Normandy, although it was about a couple of weeks after D-Day. He was a combat engineer eventually assigned to the US Ninth Army. I am sorry to say that that Army is not quite as interesting as Patton and his Third Army, so I decided to deviate a bit from my father's itinerary. (As with many World War II veterans, my father never talked very much about his service, and I was negligent in pumping him for information before he passed.) Third, I was stationed in Germany in the 1970s in the very area—the Palatinate (Rhein-Pfalz), specifically the town of Zweibrücken—that Patton was going to plow through before he was diverted north by the Battle of the Bulge, so I was hopeful that I might see some old sites. As you will see from the third link above, we never did much of anything Patton-related in Germany on this tour.