Welcome to The Society of the 3rd Infantry Division Website

Provided by Jocelyne Papelard

On December 13th, “Days of Lights,” in Europe, the Association US Major Grand Est France, lit 5700 candle lights on each of the 5255 steles, and 424 names on the wall of the missing. More than 100 volunteers came on Sunday morning to light these candles. The whole of the candles weighted 1 ton.  It took three hours to light them. People came: elderly, young kids, teenagers, couples—everyone pitched in.

 

On December 13th, 5700 candles lighted the graves of the Soldiers buried at Epinal American Cemetery including those listed on “Wall of the Missing.” Here is a daylight and nighttime view of the cemetery.

At 1500 hours (3:00 O’clock), we had a beautiful ceremony.  The American Forces Network in Germany was present. news france 2

Elementary kids, middle-schoolers, high-schoolers, and junior college students came to speak about soldiers buried in Epinal, reading poems and letters written at Christmas time. The 3rd Infantry Division was particularly honored as we recalled its suffering in the Colmar Pocket. On Christmas Day 15 soldiers died and the next day over 20 died to take hill 351 in Sigolsheim, among them Pvt. Dominic Giovinanzzo who was particularly honored too.

 

  

news france 3According to all present (there was a large audience), it was a beautiful and very moving ceremony. After the ceremony we had a get together at the city hall of Dinoze, and I came back with a friend at 2000 hours (10:00 O’clock) to see the cemetery.

It was pitch dark but the whole cemetery and wall of the missing were ablaze in the starry night. It was a magic view with all these lights twinkling in the night as if the soul of each soldier was palpitating. A feeling extremely powerful overwhelmed us watching in silence.

The night was thick but the sky was starry as it was cold and freezing so you could see many stars and when a friend and I lifted our heads, we saw a big shooting star coming above the cemetery zipping by. We were struck. We just said “OH MY GOD”!  The boys in Heaven are telling us they are happy. This is our way to keep the flame of remembrance burning bright.

The Association placed a huge Christmas wreath at the apex of the 2 cemetery plots A and B, and many members laid individual wreaths on the grave or graves of their adopted soldiers.

 

news france 5Other activities in which our Member in France, Jocelyne Papelard, is engaged follow:

The Association des Maires des Voges owns a beautiful military museum in Vincey, Vosges. I have visited this beautiful museum which contains a lot of pieces of American weaponry for WW1 and especially WW2. These people have gathered together and adopted the grave of our brother Paul Cummings of the 79th Infantry Division (Called Croix de Lorraine Division). They have gathered at the grave, laid down a wreath and wrote a poem for Paul Cummings entitled, “We Remember.”

 

 

news france 6Sgt. Raymond Fred Schlaanstine has been adopted by the Mayor and inhabitants of the small village of “Les Rouges Eaus” news france 7on the road to the
Haut Jacques Pass. Many of our Soldiers were killed there as well as at Haut Jacques. Jocelyne sent a two-page profile about Fred Schlaanstine (he preferred his middle name) to show the amount of research the Adoptive Grave Association does on each of the Soldiers their members adopt. Sgt. Schlaanstine was 19 years old and had already become an accomplished musician, Eagle Scout, had qualified for medical school, and had received the Purple Heart with two oak clusters. One of his brave acts occurred when he and another Soldier used little more than American ingenuity to blow up a German tank that was a threat to his fellow Soldiers. He is listed on the monument, below, with other members of the 7th Infantry Regiment who were killed on October 25, 1944.

 

 

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