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    80 Years Later the Big Red One Returns to Tunisia

    80 Years Later the Big Red One Returns to Tunisia

    Photo By Sgt. Charles Leitner | U.S. Army 1st Lt. Rebecca S. Womack, an infantry officer assigned to Headquarters and...... read more read more



    Story by Spc. Charles Leitner 

    19th Public Affairs Detachment

    TUNIS, Tunisia – U.S. Army noncommissioned officers of the 1st Infantry Division traveled to Tunis, Tunisia, to participate in the 80th Commemoration of the Second World War’s Tunisia Campaign during the week of May 9, 2023.

    In an acutely academic environment, Soldiers listened as professionals in military history discussed the campaign from multiple levels and how tactics used by Allied forces laid the groundwork for future multinational operations.

    Selected for their professionalism in their respective fields, these noncommissioned officers attended the commemoration event to learn about the culture, heritage and common legacy that every Soldier shares.

    “Understanding how past events shaped current events is one of the benefits of studying history,” said U.S. Army Sgt. Tokin Shrestha, a helicopter maintenance squad leader in B Co., 601st Aviation Support Battalion, 1st Combat Aviation Brigade 1st Inf. Div. “Learning from the past helps us understand who we are and how we got here, how to prevent mistakes in the future and steer societies or nations in a good direction.”

    During lunch, 1st Inf. Div. Soldiers enjoyed Tunisian pastries, lamb, brazed chicken, couscous and chakchouka, a North African sauce made from tomatoes, onions, peppers and spices. As they sat amongst a group of multinational service members, military historians and foreign dignitaries, Soldiers learned about the importance of Operation Torch and the critical role Tunisia played in preparing Allied forces for the invasion of Sicily and Normandy which eventually led to their victory in Europe.

    According to Tunisian Senior Col. Baccouche Tarek, the director of heritage, culture and communication in Tunisia, “the strategic importance of Tunisia during the Second World War has made it an important subject of study.”

    Held at the ruins of Uthina, an ancient Roman-Tamazight city outside of Tunis, the symposium was filled with discussions about the military conflict that occurred in Tunisia during Operation Torch and the diverse cultural exchange that has occurred throughout the country’s long history.

    “These historical sites are important testimonies which represent the richness of the common legacy of the countries that took part in that war,” said Imed Memmich, the Tunisian Minister of Defense.

    In addition to professors of military science, attending the event were members of Canada, France, Germany, Great Britain, Italy and the United States militaries, highlighting the importance of educated discussion and how a stronger coalition force developed.

    “I am honored to be participating in this event with fellow United States Army Officers and Soldiers from the 1st Inf. Div., 3rd Infantry Division and the U.S. Army National Guard representing the 34th Infantry,” said former 1st Inf. Div. helicopter pilot Charles Bowery, the executive director at the U.S. Army Center of Military History. “In my role as the U.S. Army’s senior historian, I have the honor and responsibility of supporting military commemorations like this one. These events are always more meaningful when the current Army invests in the development of its people by sending current Soldiers to honor their ancestors.”

    Additionally, Soldiers of the 1st Inf. Div. visited multiple locations across the northern region of Tunisia to understand the important role the country played in the Second World War and the lessons learned in large-scale combined forces conflicts, the first of which occurred during this campaign.

    “Touring the battlefields and having historians present was amazing,” said Shrestha. “Seeing the battlefields and learning how soldiers maneuvered those terrains and fought; it was a surreal experience.”

    From Djedeida to Medjez el Bab then Hill 609 to Long Stop Hill, 1st Inf. Div. Soldiers visited sites alongside military counterparts from various nations as Bowery facilitated discussions amongst the group that allowed for debates about various combat situations that occurred at several locations significant to the North African Campaign, the remainder of the Second World War and beyond.

    “Commanders of different military cultures would have to learn to work with one another on the fly in the harshest conditions possible,” said Bowery. “These are timeless lessons for any Soldier and bare thinking about today.”

    The final leg of their trip brought them to the North Africa American Cemetery, a memorial and burial ground for U.S. service members killed during the campaign in Tunisia. To honor the fallen, noncommissioned officers of the 1st Inf. Div. laid a wreath at the site’s tomb of the unknown soldier.

    The 1st Inf. Div. will send another group of noncommissioned officers to Normandy, France, to take part in the 79th Anniversary of Operation Overlord and the D-Day landings, continuing its yearlong campaign to highlight the NCO Corps. Leadership professional development opportunities like these allow the 1st Inf. Div. to continue developing, honoring and telling the story of the NCO corps.



    Date Taken: 05.25.2023
    Date Posted: 05.30.2023 13:38
    Story ID: 445623
    Location: TUNIS, TN

    Web Views: 248
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