The Holocaust Speaker’s Bureau is holding a special event to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz. It is on Monday, January 26, from 7 to 8 pm at The Cedars of Chapel Hill Retirement Community, Cedar Berry Lane, Chapel Hill, NC 27517.
The event is in the ballroom where the will be a 30-minute historical video and reflections by several speakers.
Robert Patton, former post adjutant, frequently attended local holocaust events as his army unit, the 65th Division, Third Army, liberated a concentration camp at Mauthausen. It was through his efforts that an unmarked mass grave was identified and a memorial placed to remember those interred in the unmarked site. Let’s honor Robert’s memory by attending this event.
Local high school students are planning on a visit to Europe to visit the American Cemetery at Colleville-sur-mer. Six amazing teenagers are working toward an invitation to volunteer at the 70th D-Day celebration. They are also hopeful to have local World War II veterans join them on their journey. They know that these veterans would also like to travel to the 70th D-Day celebration, but might hesitate to travel alone.
Through class events, the students have met and been inspired by these brave veterans who have since passed: Robert Patton, Vince Norako, and Tony Marimpietri. They heard what it was like to have the Allied soldiers liberate Paris from Chantal Shafrock, who was a teen in Paris at that time.
Since 2009 about 30 students have traveled to the American Cemetery in Normandy. They stayed with families in Liege, Belgium, but an important piece of history, sacrifice and honor was experienced when they walked Omaha Beach, visited the American Cemetery and imagined the effects of war at Pointe du Hoc.
This year’s group of six students, who are now juniors in high school (17 years old), would like to return to Normandy and volunteer to help with the 70th D-Day celebration. They are students who traveled in 2011 and who have a deep interest in honoring our veterans. These incredible young people have had relatives and close friends fight in World War II and another hopes to be a history teacher and travel abroad with students. All are doing very well in school, have achieved numerous honors, and speak French well.
C. V. Cummings Chapel Hill Post 6 is proud of these students and their teacher, Ms. Robin McMahon. They exemplify what the Veterans of Foreign Wars members looks for to recognize local students and educators who perform patriotic service in our community. We will be following the students’ quest as they continue to work on the details of this year’s planned trip and wish them well as they wait on the official invitation to this years historic 70th D-Day celebration.
Here is a UNC-TV video on a recent class trip to France.
It is hard to put pen to paper when you are writing about family or a long-time friend. Robert Patton was both. We lost him on April 11th, 2013, after a long illness.
Robert touched a lot of people. People in our town, people in his veterans organizations, and people who are survivors of the holocaust. He spent the last few years ensuring that those who served were not forgotten. He championed a Veterans Memorial at Chapel Hill–a project now in progress.
His presence is especially felt by the families of holocaust survivors. Here in our Chapel Hill-Durham area there are children of survivors. Some have expressed gratitude to Robert. They would not be here, had the 65th Infantry not freed Mauthausen on May 5, 1945.
Robert served as an enlisted man in the United States Army in the 65th Infantry Division, Third U.S. Army. This was General George Patton’s army, although they were not related.
As World War II was ending, Robert Patton found himself at Mauthausen, Austria, on May 5, 1945. This was the site of a German Concentration Camp. The 65th Infantry liberated that camp. Robert returned to Austria for a 65th Infantry Reunion visit and they journeyed to Mauthausen. He saw then that a large area was a covered field, yet this was the site of a mass burial of camp members. He brought this to the attention of the local government and that led to a years-long effort to place a memorial at the mass burial grave site.
Robert returned again for the dedication of the Mauthausen Memorial and then once again to place his World War II uniform in an Austrian museum. Learn more
Here is what local person recently wrote about his passing and Mauthausen:
“I am devastated to hear about Robert. I admired him so much! And I will forever be grateful for his service. My grandfather was in Mauthausen and so was my cousin’s great-grandfather. Bob may have saved the life of my cousin’s great-grandfather.I doubt that I would be here if it were not for our brave men and women during WWII.” – Deborah H. Long, CDEI, DREI, Ed.D
Robert Patton was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government in recognition of his service during World War II in France. Learn more
Robert Patton passed away on April 11, 2013. He was a long time supporter of local veterans’ efforts to establish a veterans memorial in Chapel Hill. He realized that there was no memorial of any type built by the Town of Chapel Hill and supported a town memorial.
His graveside service and inurnment is scheduled for April 20th, 2013, at 10:30 a.m. at Chapel Hill Memorial Cemetery.
A memorial service will be held at his church, University Presbyterian Church, on April 27th, 2013. at 11 a.m. Details
Robert Patton was selected as a Chapel Hill Treasure and several times as the recipient of the WCHL Radio Village Pride Award for being a Chapel Hill Hometown Hero. Learn more