Waterloo to World War 2 (W2WW2)

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Waterloo to World War 2 (W2WW2) is a week-long Christian leadership program designed for cadets, midshipmen, and recently-commissioned graduates who are about to begin their careers leading America’s military men and women.  W2WW2 includes visits to a wide variety of battlefields, museums, cemeteries, and other historical and cultural sites in Belgium and France.

Participants will learn the strategic, operational, and tactical background behind many key engagements that shaped the history of Europe, from the battle of Waterloo through the WW2   Normandy landings.  They will also be mentored in lessons of leadership by examining how individual heroism, mistakes, neglect, and actions or inaction often drove the outcome of key phases of important battles and campaigns.  Additionally, each site offers spiritual object lessons related to leadership, integrity, and character that can be applied to the challenges facing today’s young leaders

W2WW2 is open to all rising military leaders who desire to grow in their Christian faith and learn how to integrate their faith with the leadership principles that they have studied and practiced during their training

The trip to Europe will be preceded by a short orientation period for participants to learn the background, outcome, and significance of the events that took place, and will be presented with other resources that can help to prepare them to more fully appreciate the sites they will visit, including maps, reading material, and videos.

The order in which sites are visited is not strictly chronological.  In several strategic locations, battles follow a split chronology because the front lines swept back and forth across the same terrain at different times. In addition, participants will visit battlefields and fortifications from other wars as the group passes through natural strong points and communication routes that have invited battles for control throughout history.  Thus the presentation of the sequence of events in each war is tempered with an ongoing discussion of the timeless principles of warfare and leadership.

Description of the trip

W2WW2 is a fast-paced 8-day program that is usually run during participants’ Spring break.  In order to allow for maximum interaction, groups are limited to 6-8 participants who travel together from a common U.S. departure point.

A notional itinerary is provided below, but the specific itinerary can be tailored for the particular school.

The group will leave the U.S. Saturday, the day after Spring Break begins, arriving in Brussels early on Sunday. Launching right into a full day of activity helps overcome jet lag more quickly.  So, after picking up luggage, the group will visit places of interest in and around Brussels, including a WW2 concentration camp, a 12th century castle, the Royal Palace, and the Grand Place.

The second day in Europe begins with a trip to Waterloo, which has vantage points where one can see every major significant geographic feature involved in the battle.  The visitor center and museum provide good background and present interesting artifacts from the battle, and the group will stop at key points on the battlefield that were critical in the final outcome. After leaving Waterloo, the group will visit the ruins of a nearby 12th Century abbey and discuss the impact of faith and religion on history. 

W2WW2 will spend the next two days exploring sites from WW1, including the famous battlefields of Flanders and the Somme.  They will visit trenches, tunnels, battlefields, museums, and memorials related to the bloody campaigns that were fought in the Flanders region.  This was also the site of the first poison gas attack.   They will also attend the “Last Post” ceremony at Ypres’ Menin Gate, which has been conducted every night since 2 July 1928, except during the German occupation in WW2.  Participants will return with a deep appreciation of the scale of carnage that traumatized Europe and led to WW2.

Passing the site of the first tank battle, as well as the location where the “Red Baron” was shot down, The group will drive to Normandy.  On the way, they will visit the castle of William the Conqueror, and will stay in the historic town of Bayeux, with its 11th century cathedral and famous tapestry commemorating the Norman conquest of England at the battle of Hastings.

Participants will climb on the German defensive positions above the landing beaches before moving to Omaha and Utah beaches where American forces landed.  Traveling through the area where many of the hedgerow skirmishes were fought, they will visit other important D-Day locations, including Ste Mère Église, Ste Marie du Mont, and Point du Hoc, where Army Rangers scaled heavily defended 90 foot cliffs.  There will also be a stop at the United States Cemetery above Omaha Beach. Returning to Brussels, the group will fly out on Saturday morning and return to the U.S.

For further information, contact the Association for Christian Conferences, Teaching, and Service (ACCTS) at: (800) 487-8108 or (303) 985-8808 or email: director@accts.org

Col (USMC, Ret. ) Phil Exner - Executive Director
Placeholder As ACCTS' executive director, Phil guides ACCTS' staff and programs. He updates staff and board members monthly, recruits new staff, raises funds, and represents ACCTS at national and international events.
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PO Box 27239
Denver, CO 80227
Phone: (800) 487-8108
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