The birth of Beyond Band of Brothers
The story of Beyond Band of Brothers ultimately started during World War II, with my grandfather, Major Béla Újházy. Béla was a cavalry officer in the Hungarian army and the commanding officer of the world-famous Bábolna stud farm in northwest Hungary, an institution founded in the late 18th century by the Austro-Hungarian Crown. In its time it was the largest military stud in Europe.
In 1944, Nazi Germany occupied its reluctant ally, establishing direct control over Hungary even as the Red Army was drawing nearer in the East. Though the Wehrmacht used some 2.75 million horses in the war, the stallions at Bábolna were not slated to be integrated into the German war machine. Instead, some German official decided that they were to be slaughtered and turned into sausages to supplement dwindling food supplies.
My grandfather would have none of that. He decided to save his beloved horses, even if it meant defying the German “allies.”He took his 50 men and 150 horses and abandoned the stud farm, driving the herd westward with no clear goal other than keeping them away from the front line looming ever closer. My father, Dezső, was 10 at the time; he worked at the stud and knew my grandfather’s soldiers. When the stud moved out, he naturally went along with my grandfather.
By early 1945, the group made its way across Austria and was near the Austrian-German border. Their journey took them to a spot along the River Inn where two towns face each other: Simbach on the German side and Braunau, best-known as Adolf Hitler’s birthplace, in Austria. It was near there that Béla and his men were found and captured by soldiers from the 3rd U.S.Army. Fortunately for them, the Hungarian soldiers were taken to the best American general they could have met: George S. Patton. Patton loved horses and was an avid rider, who even competed in the pentathlon event of the 1912 Summer Olympics in Stockholm. He recognized the value of the steeds and immediately understood that even though these men were wearing the enemy’s uniform, they weren’t attackers or saboteurs, just honorable men trying to protect something of great value to them. Patton made a deal with my grandfather: he and his men were formally placed under arrest but were in fact allowed to care for the herd at anabandoned farm nearby. They would be given supplies but, in exchange, off-duty American officers could visit the farm for recreational riding. For four years the “captive” Hungarian soldiers coexisted peacefully with their American captors, brought together by their love of horses.
My father Dezső kept a diary of these four years, which ended up in my hands decades later. I’ve read it with relist, not knowing that it planted a seed in me that would grow to steer the course of my life. I grew up and found employment in the business sector, working in management positions at large international companies such as IBM and Microsoft. It was a useful school, teaching me how to run and oversee a business. As the years passed, however, I felt a growing desire to do something on my own, to build something from the ground up; and my father’s childhood diary was calling to me. After a decade of working for other people, I finally took the plunge and invested all my savings, starting up Beyond Band of Brothers Tours.
Band of Brothers, the wildly and rightfully successful HBO miniseries, did a lot to keep World War II and the sacrifice of those who fought in it in the public consciousness. Our very first tour followed in the footstep of E Company, 2nd Battalion, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. Easy Company certainly encapsulated the best qualities a soldier can aspire to. We should, however, always keep in mind that World War II was won not by a single company, but by millions of combatants, each of whom served, suffered and all too often gave the greatest sacrifice. Beyond Band of Brothers Tours wishes to salute them all.
CEO and Founder of
Beyond Band of Brothers Tours
Niki, Debra, Natasha and Lance are the travel consultants at your service in our sales office in Lexington, Kentucky, just a few hours’ drive from Fort Campbell, home of the 101st Airborne Division. The consulting team has first-hand experience with the sights on our tours as well as relevant knowledge thanks to their backgrounds in history. Niki is Managing Director of Procom America, LLC, and represents the Procom family to our partners and customers in the United States. To contact our travel consultants, write to firstname.lastname@example.org
or call us toll-free: 1-888-335-1996
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Beyond Band of Brothers Tours in the news
Interest in Beyond Band of Brothers Tours is growing every day and the media has taken notice. A television network interviewed us after we offered a free tour to a Korean War Veteran who had been left out to dry by a shady tour operator. Forbes Magazine did a profile about our company and our founder, Peter Gaal.
Here you can listen to our marketing director give a radio interview to The Informed Traveler.
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