International panelists and speakers at the Sicily 1943: Peace, Security & Prosperity conference

Stephen (Steve) Gregory, chairman of the conference, is the founder and chairman of the International Forum for Peace, Security & Prosperity (IFPSP), a Canadian non-profit corporation with the mission to learn from our past, to educate and inform future generations of the history of peace in the world, and to bring a heightened level of reasoning to the discussion of what achieves lasting peace, security and prosperity. The IFPSP supports and promotes positive peace, the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals 13, 14, 15 relating to climate change and 16 relating to institutions of justice and the Eight Pillar of Positive Peace developed by the Institute for Economics & Peace (IEP). Steve is the former Honorary Colonel of the 2nd Field Regiment, Royal Canadian Artillery and has been presented with Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal and commendations from the Minister of Veterans Affairs and the Commander of the Army for his work in support of our troops and veterans. He has led IsaiX Technologies Inc since 1989, a firm specialising organizational development and technology for sales. In addition, he sits as a director on the boards of two TSX-listed public companies. In 2006 he co-founded the “3rd Battery of Montreal Artillery,” a charity which supports cadets and veterans. In 2015 he co-founded The Respect Campaign, which facilitates a national networking initiative involving forums in more than 20 Canadian cities. This network promotes collaboration among stakeholders who support the mental health of our men and women in uniformed service. In various capacities, he has assisted in raising over $3 million for the families of our troops and various community outreach initiatives. Steve and his team of volunteers organised 325-km marches across Sicily in 2013 and 2018 in honour of those who fought and died on all sides during the Allied campaign in Sicily in 1943. On 10 July 2023, Steve and his team of Sicilian volunteers will open the Walk for Remembrance and Peace (Il percorso per il ricordo & la pace), a 325-km fully mapped walking trail with accompanying historical descriptions from both the local Sicilian perspective and that of the Canadian soldiers during the summer of 1943.

Waymand T Brothers is a Tuskegee Airmen expert and a volunteer at The National WWII Museum where he is a docent, leading school tours through the museum’s exhibits. He is a lifetime member of Tuskegee Airmen in Louisiana and the National Trust For Historic Preservation and has lectured throughout the US. Waymand’s passion for the past led him to undertake extensive research into the Underground Railroad and colored soldiers and the roles they played. Waymand was born in New York and was a substance abuse, adolescents and criminal justice counselor for more than 30 years. He managed one of the largest alternative US  high schools for Phoenix House working with substance-abusing adolescents in the country. He continues to give both to his community and family as a member of his church and as a volunteer. Waymand works and lives in New Orleans with his wife Peggy, a New Orleans Police officer, and his family.

Tim Cook is the Chief Historian and Director of Research at the Canadian War Museum in Ottawa, Canada. He has curated over a dozen national exhibitions, authored 14 books, and published over 100 academic book chapters and articles. For his contributions to Canadian military history, he is a fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the Order of Canada

John Curatola is the military historian at the Institute for the Study of War and Democracy at the National World War II Museum. A Marine Corps officer of 22 years, he graduated from the University of Nebraska and is a veteran of Operation Provide Hope in Somalia, Operation Iraqi Freedom, and the 2005 Indian Ocean tsunami relief effort. He holds masters’ degrees in both American and Military History. With a PhD from the University of Kansas, John’s research focuses upon World War II, airpower, and the early Cold War period. Previously he taught history at the US Army’s Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas. His first book Bigger Bombs for a Brighter Tomorrow addressed the nature of the American atomic monopoly with his latest entitled, Autumn of Our Discontent  assessing US national security policy development in 1950. Additionally, his works are available in compendium books, popular magazines, and academic journals with his many presentations available for viewing on CSPAN, Business Insider, and Youtube.

Robert Irving Desourdis is President and CEO of Desourdis Collaboration LLC and a systems consultant. He is the founder of an initiative to establish a national system to memorialise the events and sacrifices in the Second World War. Desourdis’ books span strategic post-nuclear attack communications and public safety interoperability. As Homeland Security Editor for NOVA Science Publishers, he has created and cowritten books about the consequences of failed human collaboration in homeland security, including demonstrating that the same 25 collaboration failures documented in the 1946 Pearl Harbor report can also be found in the 9/11, Hurricane Katrina, Virginia Tech shootings, Deepwater Horizon and the Space Shuttle disaster reports. He has also collaborated on the memoirs of war veterans including a Marine veteran who became chief historian of the US National Park Service and was a bomber pilot who flew 33 missions over Western Europe before joining NASA. Four books and one manuscript cover the Italian campaign from Salerno to Bologna based on the tours provided by Frank de Planta. Desourdis has a BS degree in mathematics and an MS degree in electrical engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute and a Masters degree in technology and Policy from MIT.

Steve Erskine is the Researcher at The Green Howards Museum in north-east England, a museum with which he has a connection for over 20 years where he started as a Volunteer and is now Assistant Curator. In his role as Researcher he was  instrumental in helping identify the remains of a soldier found on the Somme battlefield. As  result, Private Henry Parker now has a grave and his descendants their own point of remembrance. Steve has a number of research credits in the work of others including A Delicate Affair – How America learned to fight a modern war on the Woëvre front. Terrance J. Finnegan (2015); Somme – Into the Breach. Hugh Sebag-Montefiori (2016); Bulfin – Ireland’s forgotten General. Brigadier John Powell (2018) and Zero Hour, Z day: XV Corps operations between Mametz and Fricourt – Volume 2. Jonathan Porter (2020). Steve is an experienced battlefield guide having conducted tours of the Dunkirk, Normandy, Somme and Ypres battlefields.  He is currently working on a regimental perspective of the Sicily landings and how they influenced the later Green Howard landings on Gold Beach on 6 June, 1944.

Joseph D. Lonardo - The National Italian American FoundationJoseph Lonardo is the General Counsel and Board Member of the National Italian American Foundation, an organisation established by its members to preserve and honour the legacy, traditions, language, and values of their Italian heritage.  Joseph Lonardo’s grandparents were born in Licata, Sicily, and emigrated to the US.  His father, Dominic Lonardo served in the US Army, including participation in the Italian campaign and a year in the Post-WWII occupation in Rome.  His father-in-law, Thomas Hoban, served as a captain with the US Army First Armored Division in the landings at Anzio, Italy.  He was awarded the Distinguished Service Cross and three Purple Hearts during the Italian campaign.

Charles K Djou was appointed in May 2022 to serve as the Secretary of the American Battle Monuments Commission. An Afghanistan war veteran, Djou served for over 20 years in the US Army Reserve. In Operation Enduring Freedom, Djou deployed with the 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) to Kandahar, Afghanistan, in 2011-12. In the Army, Djou served with units based in Hawaii, California, Alaska, South Korea, and Germany. Djou is a former Member of Congress, Hawaii, 1st Congressional District, where he served on the House Armed Services Committee and House Budget Committee. He also won elections to the Hawaii State House of Representatives, where he was the Minority (Republican) Floor Leader; and the Honolulu City Council where he was Chair of the Zoning Committee. Outside of politics, Djou taught at the University of Hawaii law school and more recently at Hawaii Pacific University. Djou attended college and earned a business degree from the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Finance, a law degree from the University of Southern California Gould School of Law and holds a MA (Strategic Studies) from the US Army War College. He and his wife are both lifelong residents of Hawaii and together happily raising their son and two daughters (and a dog) in the Aloha State.

Brigadier (Retd) Justin Maciejewski DSO MBE joined The National Army Museum as Director in 2018. Prior to this he worked at  McKinsey & Company, a Management Consultancy Firm, for five years following a visiting fellowship with the Changing Character of Warfare Programme  at The University of Oxford (2012) under Professor Sir Hew Strachan during which time he contributed to British Generals and Blair’s Wars.  Justin served in the British Army for 27 years (1985-2012). His final appointmentas a Brigadier General was as Director Combat, the Professional Head of the British Army’s 28,000 Infantry and Cavalry.  He led British and coalition troops on operations in Basra (Iraq) over two tours of duty, 2006-2008, following which he was awarded Distinguished Service Order, the UK’s highest award for battlefield leadership. Justin served with the Italian Army and speaks conversational Italian.  His father served in the Polish Army in Italy leaving Italy to start a new life in the United Kingdom in 1946. He was educated at Selwyn College, Cambridge where he read history, The Royal Military Academy Sandhurst, The Joint Services Command and Staff College, Kings College, London where he received an MA. He is married to Rebecca and has three sons, the eldest is serving in the Army.

Gavin Mortimer is a best-selling writer, historian and TV consultant who has published more than 30 books on both sides of the Atlantic, his most recent of which was a biography of Special Air Services’ (SAS) founder David Stirling (Constable 2022). The leading authority on Second World War special forces, he has interviewed more than 100 veterans from the SAS, Special Boat Service (SBS) and Long Range Desert Group (LRDG). As well as appearing on numerous TV and radio programmes, Gavin was the consultant for the National Army Museum’s 2018 exhibition about the history of Britain’s special forces and he has guided several serving members of the SAS around the sites in France where their predecessors fought in 1944.

 

Edmund O’Sullivan is the co-founder of the Irish Brigade website which was launched in 2010 and tells the story of 38 (Irish) Brigade — in which his father served — in the Second World War. This has involved transcribing and uploading war diaries, capturing previously-unpublished documents and photographs and producing the All My Brothers documentary film series about the brigade’s journey from Algeria to Austria. Edmund is a retired media company director, an economist and an award-winning publisher author and editor specialising in the economics and politics of the Arab and Islamic world and Africa. The photograph (right) shows him on location with Irish Brigade Films’ filmographer Harry Thompson for Part 1 of All My Brothers on Grandstand Hill in Tunisia, an important battlefield for the Irish Brigade in January-February 1943. Edmund lives in Islington with his wife Maria and in his spare time plays the classical guitar and sings in the bass section of the London Welsh Male Voice Choir.

Richard O’Sullivan is the co-founder of the Irish Brigade website and presenter of the All My Brothers documentary film series. He was previously a finance director in an international telecommunications corporation which involved long-term overseas postings in Saudi Arabia, the UAE, India and Japan. Richard is an Assistant Curator at the London Irish Rifles’ museum in London. With his brother Edmund, he has visited all the principal Irish Brigade battlefields in Tunisia, Sicily and on mainland Italy. Richard lives in Windsor, England.

Ian Pearson of the Durham Light infantry Association is a project manager and former senior British Army NCO. He joined the army as a 16 year old in June 1982, serving a two-year apprenticeship at the Army Apprentice College in Harrogate, graduating in 1984 as a radio telegraphist in the Royal Corps of Signals. Ian served in the Gulf, South Georgia, Bosnia, The Falkland Islands, Northern Ireland and Kosovo before retiring in 2000. Since then, Ian has had varied engineering and management roles, having worked for and alongside companies such as TATA, Capita, Energis, Cable & Wireless, BT, Virgin, Thus, Oracle, Talk Talk and Ciena. He is currently a project manager at Vodafone. His interests and passions include his family, supporting the local community, following Newcastle United, over 40s football, golf, military history, charity work and socialising.

Dr Joseph Quinn is the project co-ordinator of Their Finest Hour, a crowdsourcing initiative by the University of Oxford that aims to collect and digitally archive the everyday stories and objects of the Second World War. He is a leading historian on the history of Britain and Ireland during the Second World War. He is a producer and host of The Irish Military History Podcast and has contributed to The Irish Times.

Dr Martin Nassua is a Fellow with the German Institute for Defence &  Strategic Studies (GIDS) at The Helmut Schmidt University/University of the Bundeswehr in the Command and Staff College of The Bundeswehr. In 2007-22, he was the Director of the International Office of The Helmut Schmidt University, University of the Federal Armed Forces in Hamburg. Dr Nassua was assistant to the President of The Helmut Schmidt University, University of the Federal Armed Forces Hamburg in 1999–2006. He is married to Anna and has two children: Claudia and Julia.