Even today French locals , other Europeans and Americans find themselves drawn to the Meuse-Argonne region of France. Once drawn there, many return time and again; often working on a multi-year research or preservation project. In this irregular interview series, the webmaster hopes to introduce readers to some of these individuals and their labors of love.
1) What are your name, nationality and occupation?
- Mike Hanlon
- El Sobrante, CA, U.S.A.
- Former USAF officer, Project Manager for Corporations and Government Agencies
2) Which languages do you speak, and how fluently do you speak them?
3) When was your first visit to the Meuse-Argonne?
4) When did you really find yourself drawn to the Meuse-Argonne?
- Earlier, when I realized that it was America’s biggest battle and so little was known and written about it.
5) What is your primary interest in the region?
- U.S operations in the area, primarily, but the earlier attritional warfare between French and German forces as well.
6) Approximately how many times and/or how often do you visit the Meuse-Argonne?
- 15-20 times.
- Two day’s days in the Argonne are included for my August 2015 battlefield tour.
7) What do you do when you visit?
- Visit historic sites and memorials. Follow the advances of the U.S. forces in 1918.
8) What research or preservation projects are you working on currently?
- I have multiple publications on the war in which the Meuse-Argonne Offensive of 1918 will feature prominently.
9) What research or preservation projects have you completed in the past?
- I have published major articles in my magazine OVER THE TOP on:
o The Lost Battalion Incident as reported by the unit’s Sergeant Major
o James M. Cain’s account: “The Taking of Montfaucon”
o Historian Mark Grotelueschen’s Analysis of the Operation of 1 November 1918
- In my other online outlets I have written about
o The research efforts at the Sgt. York Site
o Eddie Grant and Charles Whittlesey
o Rommel in the Argonne
o Last attack of the war, 10 November
o Medal of Honor Recipients at the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery
o Specific sites such as Vauquois, the Pennsylvania Memorial, Frank Luke crash site, etc.
10) What is your favorite spot in the Meuse-Argonne, and why?
- For an American, a visit to the Meuse-Argonne Cemetery is a powerful reminder of our nation’s sacrifices. Also, the beauty of the site, the care it is given, and the professionalism and level of knowledge of the staff are sources of great pride.
- For battlefield archeology: the Butte de Vauquois is hard to beat. I’ve taken groups to the top to view the craters and trenches, and into the tunnels to see what life was like for the sappers. First-time visitors are always shocked and dazzled.
11) History aside, what is your favorite thing to do in the Meuse-Argonne?
- After pounding around those battlefields, I find a nice country-style luncheon at the Hotel de l’Argonne in Apremont is just delightful. I would recommend their wild boar in cherry-sauce or their Choucrute Garnie as a main course.
12) Schedule permitting, would you consider being a tour guide for individuals or groups traveling to the sector?
- Yes, I would. I’m currently affiliated with Valor Tours, Ltd. of Sausalito, California, and bookings for group or individual tours can be made through them.
13) How can readers contact you for assistance or for more details?
- All my publications and work on the Great War can be accessed at the website: Worldwar1.com
- For personal contact:
o email: [email protected]
o tel: 510-778-3312
14) Any other comments?
- Good luck to Randy Gaulke and his efforts in sharing his WWI knowledge and in building interest in that event that shaped the world we live in today, the Great War of 1914-1918.