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Click here for this week’s European Volksmarch schedule.

Now that your boots are aired out and the holes in your socks are darned, it’s time to test those Odor Eaters you got from Santa!

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Bastogne Historic Walk after action report: Again this year, the organizers put together an outstanding walk! Maurice Spirandeau, a veteran of Patton’s Third Army, and his staff of volunteers deserve a hearty pat on the back for a job well done. Ed and Marion Lapotsky and Tom Larscheid and his wife, Carol, were just some of the people whose efforts made this walk possible. Unfortunately, Mr. Spirandeau was not able to lead the walk this year due to illness — the only time in the walk’s 29 years that he has not been out front — but he was part of several ceremonies honoring the men who fought in and around Bastogne.

American participation in the walk was outstanding. Some were Boy Scouts participating in the ceremony at the Easy Company Memorial. Others were wearing World War II uniforms and answering questions about the fighting in the forest. Many were active-duty personnel in uniform, walking the route and marching in the parade. Most were in sneakers and jeans and some pushed children in strollers. Regardless of their age, branch of service or attire, all had the common purpose of paying respect to those who fought, froze, bled and died in the Battle of the Bulge.

Military members from several countries participated as well. There were numerous Belgian and Dutch soldiers on the trail, as well as a contingent from the Royal Dutch Marscheuse. We have to recognize and send special thanks to all of the re-enactors who made this historical walk more realistic. There was no snow this year, and fortunately the rain held off until the afternoon, but it was cold enough to lend a touch of realism to the walk and to make their time in the forests more than a little uncomfortable.

Year after year, these young men and women come from all over Europe, having spent small fortunes for their authentic uniforms, weapons and vehicles, in an effort to honor those who liberated Europe. We tried to thank as many as possible for their efforts in keeping the history alive. We had a wonderful weekend and look forward to attending again next year.

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Earlier in the year, you read about Norm Raynal and his Second Annual Fisher House Marathon Project. In 2005, Norm raised money for this fantastic facility by walking five Volksmarch marathons, each one 42 kilometers. He raised more than $15,000, which was given to the Fisher Houses so family members of sick and wounded service members hospitalized at Landstuhl Medical Center could stay close to their loved ones.

In 2006, he walked seven marathons in five countries in an effort to reach $20,000. Unfortunately, the pledges just were not there this year. Since Norm does not want to dwell on what did not happen, let’s focus on what did. In the past two years, he has walked a dozen marathons in five countries (in addition to the regular Volksmarches he does). Donations came from 15 states and four countries, totaling almost $25,000 in the two-year effort.

Norm says, “The best part was that I had the opportunity to meet the families of our soldiers, work with Kathy Gregory, the manager of the Landstuhl Fisher Houses, talk with members of the Fisher family, and meet some of our uniformed heroes. Having contact with these heroes is a privilege and an honor.”

He adds, “I started these marathons in an effort to give something back after my son and I each completed two combat tours in different generations and in different parts of the world. We both returned home without any physical wounds. The result was that I did give something back, but I got so much more than I gave. I want to express my thanks to everyone for their support, especially my wife, Jutta. Thanks also to Karen Hand, who helped with the translation chores.”

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Notes about this week’s events:

¶ The Marche Des Crèches in Gemmenich, Belgium, will take you past about 20 homes that have Nativity scenes.

¶ The walk in Simpelveld, Netherlands, will have oliebollen and Glühwein at the start and controls.

¶ The B-medal prize at Wiesbaden-Delkenheim, Germany, is from this club’s cup and plate series that they have given in the past. They have reduced the price for these limited souvenirs to 3 euros. Enjoy the 6K and 12K trails, which start both days from 8 a.m. to 2 p.m. (5 p.m. finish).

The easiest way to reach the start hall is to take the Wi-Delkenheim/Wallau exit off A66 and head towards Wiesbaden-Delkenheim (opposite direction from Wallau).

¶ The folks in Wolferstadt, Germany, are offering B-medals from past years’ bird plates. The 5K and 11K start times on Friday and Saturday are 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. If you’re interested in attending Friday’s torch walk, be there between 5 and 7 p.m. End Friday’s walks by 9 p.m.; finish on Saturday by 4 p.m.

¶ At Ochsenhausen, Germany, start the 6K and 10K Saturday and Sunday between 7:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Nordic walkers are invited to attend all walks. The Young Walkers’ Tour 6K event is only on Saturday, beginning at 9:30 a.m.

¶ Notes on walks in Italy:

This is the first walk for the town of Cittadella. It is a walled city, so expect great photo opportunities if the weather cooperates.

Avesa hosts a very pretty walk through hills and olive groves, and you’ll see great panoramas, especially just past the midpoint restoro. The walk is for a donation only. There will be a large restoro at the end. To reach the event from the SS11/ SS12, turn north at the Civil Hospital in Montecchio di Borgo Trento.

The Teolo walk also asks only for a donation.

Please e-mail Volksmarch information to two.walkers@ yahoo.com. Please mail brochures to Bob and Lorraine Huffaker, CMR 460, Box 278, APO, AE, 09703-0278.


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