Civil War CampDay at Fort Ward

Learn about Civil War soldier and civilian life when FortWard Museum & Historic Site presents Civil War Camp Day on Saturday, June10.  The event is from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.  Suggested donation is $2per person or $5 per family.  The program is weather dependent.

This annual living history event features military andcivilian reenactors in camp settings.  The program includes Civil War camplife activities, infantry and artillery drills and firing demonstrations,equipment displays, and civilian impressions.  Among the living historyunits participating are the 7th Maryland Volunteer Infantry, Co. A,the 28th Massachusetts Volunteer Infantry, Co. B, the 1stMinnesota, Co. D., and the 1st U.S. Artillery, Co.D.    Special interpretations include a U.S. Army Quartermastertent, a Civil War sutler, a U.S. Army surgeon with a field hospital display,and a soldier in the reconstructed Officers’ Hut who will describe the dailyroutine and living quarters of a Union officer in the Defenses of Washington.

Fort Ward is the best preserved of the Union forts thatcomprised the Civil War Defenses of Washington.  The historic fortfeatures the fully restored Northwest bastion.  The Museum offersexhibits, programs and special events throughout the year.  Fort Ward islocated at 4301 West Braddock Road in the west end of the City ofAlexandria.  For more information, please call 703.746.4848, or visit

The City of Alexandria is committed to compliance withthe Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended.  To request a reasonableaccommodation or an alternative format, e-mail,or call 703.746.4848, or Virginia Relay 711.

Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities Committee to Commemorate Anniversary of D-Day with Market Square Event

Alexandria remembers the sacrifice of American troops and celebrates its sister city partnership with Caen, France by commemorating the anniversary of the D-Day invasions on the beaches of Normandy with two events this June.


Please join us for the sixth annual D-Day Commemoration Event on Market Square in Old Town, Alexandria on Saturday, June 3. Beginning at 2:30 p.m., the program will include WWII reenactors, vehicles, and static displays; period music from “Blue Jazz” along with swing dancing on Market Square, and an official remembrance ceremony with Alexandria elected officials.  Children are encouraged to attend and all activities are free! A full schedule of activities will be available on the Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities website at[].

Bienvenue and à bientôt!




Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities Committee–

Market Square/City Hall Plaza: 301 King St, Alexandria, VA 22314


The City of Alexandria is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. To request a reasonable accommodation, e-mail or call 703.746.4554 or Virginia Relay 711. 

GI Film Festival 2017

The GI Film Festival is back next week — check out the links below for more information:




GIFF transcends the world of film festivals by creating a true community where passionate filmmakers, our veterans and those who support them can gather for a few magical days to educate, heal and preserve the legacies of our veterans.

Every city in America should experience what you have built. Gary Mortensen, Director, Shepherds of Helmand The GI Film Festival (GIFF), a 501c3 non-profit organization founded in 2006 by Army veteran Laura Law-Millett and her husband Brandon Millett, is dedicated to preserving the stories of American veterans past and present through film, television and live special events.


GIFF’s flagship festival, held each May in Washington, DC is now entering its 11th season. GIFF also hosts an annual west coast festival each October in San Diego in partnership with KPBS.

GIFF has also produced a live event military base tour, a National Cinematic Salute to the Troops showcased in 400 theater across the country and Best of GIFF television series on The American Heroes Channel and The Pentagon Channel.

Fort Ward Armed Forces Day Tour and Concert

Observe Armed Forces Day on May 20, 2017, by attending a tour of Fort Ward, the best preserved of the Union forts that defended Washington during the Civil War, followed by a concert of Civil War music by the Federal City Brass Band on the Museum lawn.   The 90-minute tour will begin at 11 a.m., and the concert will be presented at 1 p.m.  Both activities are free, and no reservations are required.

Tour participants will learn about the construction and history of Fort Ward, and army life in the Defenses of Washington from a Union soldier interpreter.  The Federal City Brass Band re-creates the music and appearance of a U.S. Army regimental band of the 1860s.  Members perform in authentic dress and play original brass instruments of the period.  Song selections are based on original band journals and sheet music of the Civil War era.  The concert will feature a variety of military, patriotic and popular selections of the time, introduced with historical commentary.

Fort Ward Museum & Historic Site is located at 4301 West Braddock Road in the West End of Alexandria.  The Museum offers exhibits, programs and special events throughout the year.  For more information about the program, please call Fort Ward Museum at 703.746.4848, or visit

The City of Alexandria is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended.  To request a reasonable accommodation or an alternative format, e-mail, or call 703.746.4848, or Virginia Relay 711.

Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities Committee to Commemorate Anniversary of D-Day with Lecture

Alexandria remembers the sacrifice of American troops as well as celebrates its sister city partnership with Caen, France by commemorating the anniversary of the D-Day invasions on the beaches of Normandy with two events this June.

On Thursday, June 1st at 7pm at the Lyceum the committee invites the public to attend a lecture on “The Battle for Caen, June/July 1944” with the Senior Historian to the Secretary of Defense, Lieutenant Colonel Tom Christianson, U.S. Army (retired). Learn from his expertise teaching Military History and European History at the United States Military Academy at West Point and the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, as well as his time as aide-de-camp to the Commander Land Forces Southern Europe. A reception will follow the lecture.

$5 donation.  Advance registration is encouraged at



Alexandria-Caen Sister Cities Committee–

Lecture: Lyceum, 201 S. Washington St., Alexandria, VA 22314 703.746.4994

The City of Alexandria is committed to compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act, as amended. To request a reasonable accommodation, e-mail or call 703.746.4554 or Virginia Relay 711. 

75th Anniversary of the Doolittle Raid

Last Doolittle Raider, 101, recalls attack on Japan 75 years later

PUBLISHED: April 16, 2017 at 10:35 pm | UPDATED: April 16, 2017 at 10:36 pm

CINCINNATI — At age 101, retired Lt. Col. Dick Cole says his memories are vivid of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders mission that helped change the course of World War II.

Now the sole survivor of the original 80-member group, Cole recalls the excitement of learning the bombing target they had been secretly training for was Japan itself.

He remembers the eerie quiet as they neared their target, not knowing whether anti-aircraft firepower was ready for them; the precise series of orders, from open bomb bay doors to prepare to bail out, from mission leader Jimmy Doolittle as Cole flew alongside him as his co-pilot; parachuting into darkness, then being helped by Chinese villagers to stay one ahead of vengeful Japanese troops.

Three of his comrades were executed.

Cole plans to take part in events Monday and Tuesday at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force near Dayton, Ohio, marking the 75th anniversary of the attack that rallied America and jarred Japan.

It will be “a somber affair,” Cole said in a recent telephone interview with The Associated Press, when he fulfills the long Raider tradition of toasting those who have died in the past year, using goblets engraved with their names. In a private ceremony, he will offer tribute to retired Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, who died last year at age 94 in Missoula, Montana.

Sometimes chuckling, sometimes reflective, Cole sounded clear and military officer-courteous during an AP telephone interview, with his daughter Cindy sometimes repeating the questions if he didn’t fully hear them in his home in Comfort, Texas.

Cole is sorry he won’t have any of his mission comrades with him to share stories and joke with as they did in annual reunions that began after World War II. He didn’t expect to be the last one standing, since he was older than many others on the mission.

“I never thought in that vein,” Cole said. “We all know that somewhere along the line, you have to drop out.”

The Raiders launched their assault April 18, 1942, in B-25 bombers not built to fly off an aircraft carrier at sea. Suspecting they had been detected by Japanese patrols, they left sooner than planned from the USS Hornet, utilizing their mission training in Florida on short-runway takeoffs.

“Everybody thought that the takeoff would be the most challenging thing, but as a matter of fact, it turned out to be easiest thing,” Cole said.

The crews of the 16 planes were “very quiet” as they neared Japan, he recalled, saying his role next to Doolittle was to “be seen, not heard. … You didn’t speak until spoken to.” But the country song “Wabash Cannonball” started running through his head and he unconsciously began tapping his toe, which caught Doolittle’s attention.

“He gave me a look which didn’t need any conversation,” Cole said with a laugh.

Doolittle soon ordered bomb bay doors opened, and the attack was on against what turned out to be limited anti-aircraft fire.

“The enemy was doing something else and surprised that we were there, and then I just thought, ‘So far, so good,’” Cole said.

They then headed to China, running out of fuel. Cole said Doolittle gave the command to prepare to bail out as they neared the coast, adding: “I wish you all good luck.”

Cole said it was scary to parachute into a dark “unknown” in rough weather. His parachute caught in a tree, leaving him dangling but safe.

Three Raiders died trying to reach China, and eight were captured by Japanese soldiers. Three were executed, and a fourth died in captivity.

Their attack inflicted scattered damage, but more important, stunned Japan’s people. Its military diverted resources to guard their homeland, while news of the raid lifted U.S. morale after the Dec. 7, 1941, surprise attack on Pearl Harbor and a string of Japanese victories in the Pacific.

“Seven decades later, we are still awed by the sheer audacity of the Doolittle raid and the incredible men whose grit and bravery made it possible,” Democratic House leader Nancy Pelosi of California said when the Congressional Gold Medal was awarded to the Raiders in a 2015 ceremony. “Though time has thinned their ranks, it will never dim the daring of their deeds.”

Cole, a Dayton-area native, has been to the Ohio museum for reunions and other special events. He and Thatcher were there in 2015 for events highlighting the Gold Medal.

Cole also led a special public “final toast” ceremony at the museum in 2013, when four Raiders were still alive, saying of the departed: “May they rest in peace.”

Cole attended Thatcher’s funeral last June in Missoula.

Being an optimist and living his life in “moderation” probably has contributed to his longevity, Cole said, adding that he can’t really say for sure.

Asked about historical legacy, Cole replied that he believes he speaks for his late comrades in saying they considered themselves no more special than anyone else who served.

“We don’t want to be remembered any more than the rest of the people who took part in beating the Japanese,” Cole said. “They started it, and we finished it.”

More details can be found in the full article:

FILE – In this April 18, 2015, file photo, two members of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders, retired U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Richard “Dick” Cole, seated front, and retired Staff Sgt. David Thatcher, seated left, pose for photos after the presentation of a Congressional Gold Medal honoring the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Dayton, Ohio. Cole, co-pilot of the Doolittle Tokyo Raiders’ lead plane and a fly-over by vintage B-25 bombers will be part of Ohio events April 17-18, 2017 for the 75th anniversary of the daring attack that helped turn the tide of World War II. Cole said it will be a somber moment when he toasts fellow Raider, Thatcher, who died in 2016. (AP Photo/Gary Landers, File)