Bill and Babe Tour 2006 - Rendezvous at Bastogne !


On September 15th and 16th, 2006, we had the tremendous honor to receive our good friends William 'Wild Bill' Guarnere and Edward 'Babe' Heffron again.

I was informed early 2006 about their itinerary and their stay at Bastogne, which made it possible to think about an appropriate welcome. I immediately contacted Reg to participate in the project, and a bit later we asked Roby and Dominique to join our team. Brainstorming about what to do for them whilst here in Belgium brought many ideas and proposals on the table, some were good, other were excellent, but none at all were inaccurate.


This is the team:







So far for the idea's, then came the time to make some contacts and decisions. At the start we were putting out our feelers to see and hear what WW2Tour leaders Cristy and Ray would find interesting, and what could fit or not fit into their schedule.


There was of course a lot of e-mailing, and a lot of phone calls were made, but little by little the whole operation got into its final shape. Change of plans were little, and what changed became even better. One example is a proposal made by Reg. He suggested to have some F16 fighter planes doing a 'missing man' formation.


We never thought, or maybe I should be honest : I didn't think it would ever be approved. However, Reg's friend Erik came with a counter proposal : a flight with the vets in an Agusta A109 chopper. Wow, not bad, we thought. Only problem : there was a lot of work to do : an official request had to be made, thus a very very detailed file with all needed information about the vets, the reason for the flight, etcetera. Reg did a fabulous job here with help from Erik, Reg made the file all by himself and sent it to the right bureau at the DOD for approval, and Erik did the follow-up after that.

Then, we could only wait, until that special phone call came, it was Reg : "We got a YES!" Unbelievable, wow, that was fantastic news.


Ray and Cristy and the other members of our team were speechless and happy at the same time, it sounded like a fairy tale.


Other contacts had already been made to help in organizing this marvelous event, for instance : with Dominique, to help us with the visit to the Nuts Cave inside the Military Base plus granting access, also to the Heli Port for the flight with the A109. He also helped us providing the Mortars for the 21 gun salute we were to perform (thanks to his colleagues of the 285th FA Obsn Bn Reenacting Group), he scheduled the whole itinerary - from the Base to the Monument for the Ceremony, and the trip to the Mardasson after that. He also made contacts with the ABC of Bastogne asking to provide ancient military vehicles for a ride to the monument with Bill and Babe, and he made contacts with the 'Duty First' who were willing to deliver an Honor Guard


A bit further in town was Roby, he was organizing things with the City Administration and the Local Police Forces. That way we would get Security and most important : sound ! Makes life more comfortable when one has a microphone and of course a CD player for the Taps and National Anthems... Roby was also very friendly in placing the order for a wreath that Reg and I were going to buy. Finally I wrote a letter to the Mayor to invite him to the Ceremony.


Later in August I went to Bastogne and had a final meeting with Dominique and Roby at the Base, I was introduced to and thanked the EXO of the 1st Artillery Regiment for all they did for us.


Everything OK, we were on schedule. OK !


These were our partners in the event :


The City of Bastogne

1st Regiment of Artillery

based at Bastogne

Wing Heli

based at Bierset

285th Field Artillery

Observation Battalion Reenactors

The Amicale des Bastognards Collectionneurs

(ABC - Bastogne)

The 'Duty First'

Honor Guard


We also would like to thank :

Ray and Cristy from Historic Tours

to allow us to organize the event

and for their friendship and trust.

the Amicale Nationale Para-Commando Vriendenkring

for celebrating with us.


The final itinerary looked like this


On Friday :

  • - meeting Bill & Babe, Ray & Cristy plus Sue, family and Tour Members at the 4th AD Monument in Chaumont,

  • - keeping them company whilst making a stop in Assenois at the 'Fortin Devèze', where Lt Boggess broke trough the encirclement on December 26th, 1944,

  • - picking up our wreath,

  • - checking in at the hotels,

  • - a last meeting with Ray and Cristy

  • - and a meal and a drink (...) with our friends in town.


On Saturday :

  • - breakfast,

  • - at the Base : visit to the Nuts Cave and the Heli flight over the former battlefield,

  • - a ride in ancient vehicles for our 2 friends from the Base to the Monument, through Luzery and Foy,

  • - Ceremony at the Easy Co Monument,

  • - a ride to the Mardasson Monument, time to take pictures and sign books,

  • - back to the town center for a sandwich

  • - end of the 'Rendezvous', Tour continues in direction of Holland.



2 maps made by Dominique showing the itinerary :

- Monument

- Parking bus

- Honor Guard 'Duty First'

- Personal vehicles Honor Guard

- Mortar

- Parking WW2 vehicles ABC

yellow : itinerary towards E Co Monument

blue : itinerary towards the Mardasson Monument

Welcome at Chaumont

We meet up with our friends in front of the 4th Armored Division Monument.

Babe is glad to see me again

View of the bus and the tree behind the Monument

The Monument + tree

Our heroes and the visitors listening to the explanations

Stop at Assenois

We make a stop at what is called 'Le fortin Devèze', a kind of pillbox named after the Secretary of War in the 30's. At this spot Lt Boggess made contact with the 326th Engineers of the 101st Airborne, on 26th December 1944, thus breaking the encirclement.

Babe pointing to the Remembrance Plate on the pillbox

Ray Pfeiffer (WW2Tours) showing us pictures

and drawings of that timeframe

Ray next to the pillbox

'Free' evening in the city

First we headed to the shop to collect our wreath for the next day. Then we checked in at our hotels and we had a meeting with Ray and Cristy to make a last update, and then off to McAuliffe Square to fill the bellies...



Bjorn Granvang, came all the way from Norway to salute his heroes.

We had quite a few laughs seeing him passing the terrace not daring to approach Bill and Babe, for about 7-8 times,

then grabbing all his courage together, coming in and introducing himself. Nice fellow !

Some 'wild bunch': Bill, Reg, Babe, Filip and Frederic.

Visiting the NUTS Cave at the Base and the Heli Flight.

After a night with not much sleep, worrying over what would come, asking myself if I hadn't forgotten anything, how would the weather be, etc., I woke up and had breakfast. At 10:00 AM we entered the Base and visited the Nuts Cave and helped our friends to get onto the helicopter for their flight. Everything was perfect, the weather couldn't have been better.

On the bus towards the Base

Meeting an 'old' friend, Brandon, from Texas.

(I guess you already noticed the hat!)

Babe having a ball whilst driving him to the LZ.

Fasten seat-belts please....

I hear you, loud and clear !

Everybody is comfortable ?

Ready to go Airborne, first time above Bastogne !

Almost ready !!

A109's take-off !

View from the inside...

With the A109 crew. Thanks for the flight !!

Visit to the NUTS CAVE in the Base.

On our way to the Ceremony

Ceremony at the Monument

  • Welcome and Expressions of Gratitude (Filip)
  • Speech (Cristy)
  • Speech (Reg)
  • Speech (Bastogne Alderman Mr. J.C. Cremer)
  • Laying of the Wreaths
  • 21 Gun Salute with Mortars
  • Taps
  • The Star Spangled Banner
  • The Brabançonne
  • Act Of Remembrance
  • End of the Ceremony


The HONOR GUARD 'Duty First'

Leading the Ceremony

Babe and Bill listening...

My welcome word:

Mr. Guarnere and Mr. Heffron, dear Veterans, dear family members and friends, Monsieur le Député Bourgmèstre, dear Tour Members and Tour Organizers, fellow Americans; ladies and gentlemen, mesdames et messieurs : it is a high honor for me to speak to our American liberators and the American people here at Bastogne today, Saturday 16th September 2006.

We stand here on historical ground, in a place engraved forever in our memories for the role it has played in our history against the dark night of evil. We are gathered here today to pay homage, to pay tribute to the soldiers of freedom, to the legendary heroes of Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge.

We will never forget. We will never forget that hard winter of 1944/45. We will never forget those men who made the ultimate sacrifice to liberate our soil, our native land, our continent from the yolk of Nazi barbarity and its murderous folly. Our hearts are indeed heavy as we behold their courage, their self-sacrifice, their generosity.

And our spirit is indeed uplifted by the absolute ideals of these youngsters who offered up their last breath to save the world. I salute the memory and the sacrifice of all these fighters.

Overcoming their fear, all fears, and by the morality of their struggle and the strength of their ideals, they raised the human conscience onto a higher plane.

Today, we honor Mr. Guarnere and Mr. Heffron,

today, we honor all the veterans of Bastogne and the Battle of the Bulge,

today, we honor all their comrades who never left.

Before starting the ceremony I wish to express my gratitude to everyone who helped in organizing this event :

I want to say THANK YOU to the Mayor of the City, to the Bastogne Administration and local Police Force for their support, I wish to say THANK YOU to the Belgian Military Forces for providing the helicopter flight and granting us access to the Military Base to visit the famous Nuts Cave. A special thanks to Roby Clam, local guide, to the Commander and members of the 1st Artillery Regiment here at Bastogne, and to Reg Jans, to all of you who have helped organize the Ceremony and the Heli flight.

I am so grateful to everyone joining us to make this a successful event : the members of the Honor Guard 'Duty First' whose members have traveled great distance to be here with us today, to the local WW2 reenacters of the association Amicale des Bastognards Collectionneurs, who were so gracious to be here with us with their ancient military vehicles and provide a ride for our 2 heroes and to the 285th Field Artillery Observation Battalion Reenactors, for providing us with a mortar and performing the 21 gun salute during the Ceremony. Last but not least I wish to thank Ray and Cristy Pfeiffer for allowing us to perform this event.

We will now start the Ceremony with Reg who wants to say a few words.

This was Reg's speech :

To all gathered here at the monument for Easy-Company:

I shall try to keep this short because the last time I spoke here the veterans started to call for air support and mortar fire. One of them even yelled that my speech was more lethal than an 88 mm Howitzer! Well it wasn’t that bad… ha-ha!

I’d like to tell a little story.

There once was a person I really admired. I say, “was” because he passed away about 10 years ago.

I was only a boy, and every evening he told me bedtime stories; stories about fairies, knights, goblins, mothers-in-law, and dragons.

When I was 15 years old he suddenly began telling different kinds of stories, stories about teenagers signing in for duty, and how they were trained. About youngsters who fought for our freedom, about heroism, and about people like you and me who went into combat to liberate a continent they’d never been to or sometimes never heard of.

These weren’t fairytales anymore. These were actual stories that occurred 62 years ago.

I don’t know why but his words touched me so deeply, they went right into my heart and that’s where they still remain. He always ended the same way by saying, “Sweet dreams Reggie!” I always replied, “Thank you, Grandpa!”

All the great men who fought during the war, every soldier and every citizen in every city and on every battlefield were brave and did what they were supposed to do; what they had to do.

Now it’s time for all of us to play our part and do what we are supposed to do, by keeping the memories alive, and teaching our children, grandchildren and great grand children about what happened over six decades ago. They need to know. They deserve to know. We owe them. Now it’s up to all of us to pass on our stories, our memories and our knowledge to each successive generation.


Cristy and Ray, I truly admire your work, because what both of you are doing is so much more than just making a living. It’s a passion and it comes from the heart. Your contribution to keep the memories alive takes my breath away. I have one word for that; RESPECT.

I would like to thank all of you for coming here and for caring.

To end this speech; what, no air support yet?

To end this speech I say,

Thank you, Babe

Thank you, Bill

Thank you, Grandpa

God bless all of you,


While Reg was doing his speech the pilots came to salute with the helicopter... Air support for Bill and Babe ?

Cristy speeches...

... as well as the Alderman - Mr. J.C. Cremer

Laying of the wreaths...


Honor Guard saluting...

End of the Ceremony - Taking a closer look at the E Co Monument

At the Mardasson

After the Ceremony we drove to the Mardasson, so the Tour Members could take a picture with the ancient vehicles or Honor Guard, and they had then also an opportunity to have a picture with their heroes.

With 'Duty First'

With the troopers of the ANPCV - Luxemburg Province Section.

Goodbye !

The story ends for us in the town center. A last chat and a lot of goodbyes...

We'll meet again, don't know where, don't know when, but I know we'll meet again some sunny day !

Good friends, thus quite an honor...

Reg with Robert "Bob" Saxvik,

brother of Oscar Saxvik - G/506 !

Mission accomplished, more than a success.

Reg, Erik and Filip with

John "Jack" Cianfrani, son of Oscar Cianfrani - 508 PIR, 82nd Airborne