Company helps area veteran take World War II-themed trip

Company helps area veteran take World War II-themed trip
Fred Doebler

A Mt. Horeb veteran will be crossing an item off his bucket list this month when he and his wife take a World War II-themed European tour courtesy of a stranger.

Fred Doebler thought he’d be taking the trip last year. He paid $6,000 to the Boston-based Band of Brothers company in 2014 for a, 11-day tour, but found out the company’s owner did not set up the trip and he was out the money.

Doebler contacted Call For Action, the nonprofit that helps consumers here at News 3. After seeing Doebler’s story on Channel3000.com, the Kentucky-based Beyond Band of Brothers Tours offered to send Doebler and his wife on a free tour.

“(Beyond Band of Brothers) said, ‘We’ve got 15 tours with that very same itinerary in 2015. You go ahead and pick whichever one that it is that you want,'” Doebler said over coffee in his dining room with soon-to-be filled suitcases sitting nearby. “What can you say? That’s pretty neat.”

In her Kentucky office, Niki Montgomery offers World War II veterans an opportunity to go on her company’s tours for free. While Doebler didn’t serve in World War II, he is an Air Force veteran, and after hearing how he was treated, she didn’t hesitate to offer him and his wife a spot on any of her tours.

“We just felt like it was the least we could do to show that we do care about what he did in his time of service and give back a little of what we can to express our gratitude,” Montgomery said via Skype. “I wish we could control everything from the weather to ensure they have a perfect time, the perfect circumstances everywhere they go. I really hope it’ll live up to their expectations.”

Doebler said it already has, even before he leaves on the 11-day tour that will take him to Normandy, the sites where the Battle of the Bulge were fought and a trip to Munich, among other stops. Beyond Band of Brothers is paying for the Doeblers’ hotels, meals and transportation once they’re in Europe.

“I think it speaks volumes of their class,” he said. “All you hear on the news anymore is bad things have happened to people. We are very grateful for this opportunity.”

The owner of Band of Brothers, Jake Powers, is facing larceny charges related to Doebler’s situation and numerous others. A spokeswoman for the Massachusetts attorney general’s office said it had received 10 consumer complaints against Powers’ company. Powers denies any wrongdoing and his attorney has filed a motion to dismiss the charges. A hearing on that motion will be held Sept. 28.

The “Band of Brothers” story was featured in an HBO miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks. The television program and current tours follow in the footsteps of the 101st Airborne Division, whose paratroopers landed behind enemy lines the night before June 6, 1944 — D-Day — before fighting through Europe for the rest of the war.