SHARKHUNTERS International
2011 Southern Patrol
- Austria.

We cross the border, which no longer exists, from Germany into Österreich (Austria).  We stopped here our first time some 21 years ago in 1990 when there was a border, and we were delayed several hours because each and every bus and truck had to be thoroughly searched for large numbers of weapons.  That was the time when uprisings were about to take place in Yugoslavia and other countries in the Adriatic region that have since broken apart.  In 1990 we were a part of history at this border as it unfolded - in 2011 we just breezed on through as there is no more border.


The drive through Bavaria and into Austria just got more and more beautiful as we wound our way through the Alps.  However, when there is a wreck with cars inside one of those long tunnels, the fast moving Autobahn becomes a parking lot.

We pass this beautiful castle (right) on our drive south.

We were stopped about half an hour.  ED and Thelma GABRIELSON made the best of our unscheduled stop (below)


We told you about the magnificent scenery.............


...see for yourself.

Just had to show you our beautiful rooms in Krumpendorf   Not only a large bedroom with two big beds, but a kitchenette too.

Back with good friends again!  Monika and her husband own the Krumpendorferhof across the road from the hotel where we stay.  They do not have enough rooms at the Krumpendorferhof for our group.

Tina and her husband Michael own the Hotel Gret'l where we do stay.  We are treated like family at both places.


Everyone feels the need to have Oktoberfest, and


Krumpendorf is no exception.


Maybe in years to come, this little one (on the left) will grow up to look like the girl on the right but right now, she is pretty scary.  I've got to get a better camera!

More of Oktoberfest - Krumpendorf style!

With die Burgermeisterin (Lady Mayor) Hilde Gagl   The beer, music and wurst is in abundance

Incidentally - did you know that Oktoberfest is not held in October?  It is at the end of September and closes the first week-end in October.  The first Oktoberfest was a celebration of the engagement of then Prince Ludwig to a princess.  He later became King Ludwig II and was most famous for building many beautiful castles in Bavaria and thus bankrupting the royal treasury.  He was found floating face down in the beautiful lake called Chemsee in southern Bavaria.............almost sounds like "Chicago justice".


During a day trip into Klagenfurt, the capitol city of the kreis (county) of Kärnten, the group naturally has to stop and check this statue to see if it will move.  The dragon is the symbol of Kärnten and according to local legend, this dragon once was alive and roamed all over Europe during the medieval centuries.  He had an unusual diet - he could eat only virgins so, as the legend tells us, when he got to Kärnten, the poor dragon just starved to death.

It is also said that if a virgin walks past the dragon, his tail will wag.  It has not wagged in more than fifty years - so the legend tells.....


On to the Memorial
Ceremonies on Ulrichsberg!

We board the bus for the ride up the mountain   COOPER picking up the group's credentials.  You must
have these credentials in order to participate.
Some ride the bus   Some walk up the mountain   We all reach the same place

Boarding the specially equipped busses (extremely LOW gear ratio) for the ride up the very steep mountain to the top.


The beautiful medals awarded COOPER by these wonderful vets:
     Landes Ehrenzeichen in Gold - Kärnten
     Landes Ehrenzeichen in Gold - Salzberg
     Ulrichsberg Großkreuz in Silber

Naturally, COOPER is extremely proud to wear these awards.



Recently, some left-wing nitwit in the Austrian Government pushed through a law prohibiting the Austrian Army from appearing in uniform, so the excellent Austrian Army Band was not here.  So there was a choir of Hungarian women who sang beautifully.

Apparently there is a way around every roadblock......




....the Memorial Begins

The Memorial   Veterans of all branches of the Wehrmacht
Sharkhunters President HARRY COOPER (1-LIFE-1983)
meets with an old friend from the Kriegsmarine
  It's good to see old friends again.
The crowd is gathering.....   The stands are filling with people....

Veterans, friends and family


come from all around Europe

BILL NAPIER remembers his friends who did not return from 'Nam    
    The speaker is the mayor of the Italian town of Redipuglia.  This is the site of the intense battle in World War One where young Oberleutnant Erwin Rommel won his 'Blue Max'.  The trenches are still there.
Kriegsmarine veteran with a veteran of the Waffen SS    
Inside the chapel with the memorial plaques   COOPER's favorite lady on the mountain.

Two really great friends.  PAUL RÖSCH (7019-LIFE-2005) was a tank commander with the 5th SS fighting the Soviets in Ukraine.  He turned 90 shortly before this photo was taken.

PETER STOCKNER (6894-LIFE-2004) has been a great "door opener" for Sharkhunters, introducing us to people and working behind the scenes to make things work smoothly for us.

Below is the flag of the Kreis Kärnten - the region of Carinthia.


In the Memorial Chamber of the old Church


Young men and the veterans alike stand here in reverence    


Sad Memories.........

Silently remembering so many good friends who
did not return...............

A Shameful Event
Let us digress for a moment to an event that took place a little while ago.  Many left-wing loonies in Europe always protest the gathering of the veterans and for the most part, the Austrian police and Army keep them separate from the veterans.  Nobody wants to stop their right to protest even though they look absolutely ridiculous.  However, at one point in time, some of these gutless cowards sneaked onto the mountain in the dark of night like the true cowards they are (we believe their mothers have fleas, sleep under porches, chase rabbits and howl at the moon) and they destroyed much of this beautiful and hallowed place.  Below are photos of what these cowardly yellow bastards did.

So many marble memorial tablets were smashed   The Cross was torn down

Our apologies if these words offend anyone, but what else can you call people with no honor and no courage who deface and destroy such an impressive place of honor?  And for no good reason!  Fortunately, all has been restored - but will these cowards do the same again?  It is the old veterans and widows of the men who did not return from combat who must clean up such a mess.

As we see in the photo to the right, all is repaired again and we hope these gutless weasels do not return to smash not only the physical things in this Memorial, but also the memories of the old veterans who just want to remember their comrades who fell.

Okay - on with our 2011 'Southern Patrol'.


A day of Fun and Entertainment


Naturally, there is the three-hour long round trip


of the Worthersee on this hundred year old steam powered ship


As we have said again and again - it is impossible to


take a bad photograph in Austria!

Call the Chamber of Commerce!
What hapened to the weather?
  Fortunately, it is only a passing shower and soon
many are back on deck enjoying the ride.

Sunday Evening and Our Social Time


The evening's outstanding entertainment was provided by our good friend ENRICO COSTA (7117-LIFE-2006) and his sister-in-law Marianne.  Whenever we enter the room when ENRICO is playing, he stops whatever he is playing and immediately plays "The Star Spangled Banner".  It is a very nice touch and naturally, every American in the place stands, with right hand over heart, and we sing along.  Superb!

It shows once again, our Sharkhunters motto:
     "Yesterday's Enemies are Today's Friends!"

COOPER always said that he could empty any room quickly if he tried to sing.  Here ENRICO and Marianne sing along with him.  They were excellent - fortunately, not many people heard COOPER sing.


It is always a great time to visit with good friends,


and to share a glass of wine.

These people and their off-camera friends came from
France to be a part of these ceremonies.
  RICH delFAVRO (1495-LIFE-1990) learned to speak German
and here he visits with another veteran, a new friend.
It is always great visiting with the veterans   and if you look hard, you'll see RICH in the background.

The the Castle of Sixteen Gates

Monday morning and we are on our way to going high, high into the sky with the "Castle of Sixteen Gates", so named because of the sixteen fortified gates on the steep and narrow path to the castle itself.  It was never taken in battle and has remained in the same family for more than five centuries!  The same family owns Ulrichsberg where the Memorial is held each year.


Unlike invading armies of the past, we take the tram up - and over


that hill and still onward.  An assault would be similar.....

This is a forbidding-looking place.   It is easy to see why it was never taken in battle

We climb higher and higher and now


we can look down on the place we just were


We pass the blacksmith shop and he is hard at work making more


armor.  This is not a dummy in a diorama - he's actually making armor.


How can one describe such an incredible view?


You just had to be there


The Chief of the House is on hand to welcome us to the castle, and soon we are wandering the courtyard high in the sky.

Now we head into the castle's museum, the dungeon and then the main dining hall for our lunch.


It is dark inside the museum because.......


.....we are not supposed to take photos in there.


Down in the dungeon, it was dark, dank and nasty.  It is easy to see why nobody wanted to do anything that would get them sent there.

Entrance to the dining hall   ....and here it is, waiting for the Sharkhunters
The private seating area for the duke and his family.
Guess he was out of town this day.....
  RICH is talking with...........we don't really know, but it
appears that he has been lost here for a very long time!
The cistern for the water supply   We take one last look around and return to our hotel

When we checked out...........


When we checked out of the Hotel Gret'l, the owner, our friend Michael, had some parting presents for us.  He is a sergeant in the Austrian Army Reserves and each of us was given a regulation Austrian Army belt buckle and since Michael is with a Gebirgsjäger regiment and they still use the Edelweiß as their emblem, each in our group were also given this beautiful metal emblem.  As I said - we are like family here.

We go onward as we drive through the blizzard into Bavaria - no joke, they had an intense snow storm.

CLICK ON THIS PHOTO - the earliest ever in history for heavy snow in Salzberg.

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