By Staff Reports
(Victor Valley)– Last year, local WWII Historian, educator, and five-time author, Todd Anton was invited by D Day Memory Tours (DDMT) to “try out” as a tour guide in Normandy. He was successful and is now a team member of DDMT. The tour profoundly changed Anton. “Seeing and walking in the footsteps of sacrifice is a sincerely humbling experience,” Anton said.
His ability to participate in this try out last June was due to the generosity of the High Desert community and Don Ferrarese Foundation who opened up a “Go Fund Me” page to cover Anton’s airfare to France. Anton, who has been an educator for 28 years in the Snowline School District, originated and hosted the annual High Desert Veterans’ Dinner for the last 24 years. He has made it his mission to connect students, families, and veterans in creating important relationships. “When you take the time to listen to a veteran’s story you will realize that freedom is not free and comes at a high price. Then when you stand on the ground they fought on, those voices become welded to your soul.”
Now as a battlefield guide tracing the steps of the famed 82nd and 101st Airborne Divisions, and other assault divisions, for a national audience, Anton wants to offer local residences a chance to join in on a personal “Thank you” tour with him for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Anton has asked D-Day Memory Tours (DDMT) to set aside time in July for WWII enthusiasts from our area. It would my honor to share in this adventure with everyone. “Our community here has the most generous, patriotic, and passionate people I know! I’ve seen them year after year support the Veterans’ Dinner.”
What makes this tour so amazing is that DDMT is “experiential touring.” Instead of riding around on a bus with a talking head, you will be riding around the fields of sacrifice in your own WWII Jeep, Staff Car, or command car. You will be fitted out in your own uniform, which you get to keep and stay where history was made. D-Day memory Tours is the vision of Jean-Pierre “JP” and Marie Paviot. This French couple, who now resides in Flordia, started their business to let Americans know the gratitude that the French nation still has for America. JP and Marie grew up in the region and know the local people who were there and love to talk to the DDMT guests. “In France, we met some beautiful people who loved Americans and were flying American flags from their homes and telling us stories of those ‘GIs who gave us our lives back’ and being a part of that experience fills your heart with pride for our nation. One of my fondest memories was the great-granddaughter of French patriot who was so excited to meet an American she just ran up to me hugged me and wanted her picture taken with me. You truly fall in love with America all over again,” Anton said. This little girl’s family farm was the command post for the famed “Easy Company” of Band of Brothers fame.
Anton’s tour is scheduled from July 10 through July 16. He is hosting a Normandy information meeting at Phelan’s Pizza Factory on February 26 from 6-7 PM. Anton can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and you can visit the website at ddaymemorytour.com.