Thursday, June 6, 2019


Over 300,000 troops from 8 countries fought at Normandy for the Allies, 75 years ago today.
Actuarially, there are but a handful of them still alive.
The youngest would be 92, and the average age would be 101.

In a few years, they'll all be dead.
Every one of them are national treasures.


Anonymous said...

My Dad was busy on the other side of the world, USMC, Peleliu and Iwo Jima among other places, then Japan and China after the war. He'd turn 100 this December if he hadn't died in 1988. He always said when we got to the Pearly Gates he'd salute St Peter and say "Another Marine reporting for duty in Heaven, I've served my hitch in Hell."

He never told stories about actual combat, but about all the other things. For instance he was a phone lineman, after the war while in China he had the job of taking out some old lines. Got up on the pole in the middle of a rice paddy and started disconnecting wires, realized the wires were the only thing holding the pole up. For the record, a rice paddy is basically a swamp, but fertilized with human waste. His buddies made him ride back on the fender of the jeep.

OTOH, the guys in Europe got to go to Paris for leave, the Marines in the Pacific went to Pavuvu where the major entertainment was the contest to see who could bayonet the most land crabs. Frikkin' crabs the size of small dogs that don't even have the decency to be edible.

Mark D

Anonymous said...

ALL who served honorably deserve our respect.
If you haven't been to Colleville sur Mer you should make the effort.
Boat Guy

Dinochrome One said...

Normally I salute only the Colors and kneel only to God, but I would gladly salute this man and others like him.

Anonymous said...

They carried their balls in a wheelbarrow.

Anonymous said...

My Dad enlisted in the Army in early 1941. He said he enlisted because there weren't any jobs to be had and the general talk at the time indicated war was coming.

He wanted to fly fighters, but turned out he was color blind. They made him an aircraft mechanic instead. On December 9th, 1941 he boarded a ship bound for Australia then was subsequently deployed to New Guinea during the fighting there.

In addition to maintaining and repairing aircraft, he was the designated company forager, tasked to secure meat other than mutton, for his company mess. He was a crack shot with rifle and shotgun.

He died four years ago this coming November at the ripe age of 95.

God bless him and all of the men of his generation that served.


Anonymous said...

Both of my parents were Army. Dad never left the states. He was injured in a training accident.
Mom was on Okinawa. O R nurse. Got out in 1946.
Dad's gone, but mom is still going strong. Just turned 96. "Active senior" Lives alone. Still drives. (Yes, we keep an eye on her driving. Still drives better than most teenagers)

Anonymous said...

Dad was a combat Glider Pilot. Do you remember the old footage of Eisenhower visiting the Airborne before the invasion? It was the base that Dad was sequestered. He wondered what the hell Eisenhower was doing visiting them.

No one knew it at the time but this base was assigned to the first Air group to invade France...hence Eisenhower's visit. St. Mere Eglise. Their job was to interdict A German Panzer Division and keep them away from the beach.

First group in...right behind the pathfinders.

Dad died in 1998...a better man than I.

Old NFO said...


Night driver said...

Dad would laugh and tell you his job was exercising the nurses at Rhodes Hospital in CNY.

MORE of that job included rehabbing many of the survivors of Bataan and Corregidor. Yeah, there weren't many.

Dad's primary war stories were centered around GO's keeping him around more than one base because he never QUITE had the grace to lose on the golf course when he was filling out a 4some.

And yes he did a LOT of physical therapy and reconditioning of former combatants at each of the stations he stopped at.

Anonymous said...

My Grandfather was refused enlistment in WW2 because he was a PUD supervisor in Indiana and therefore critical for the war effort routing and maintaining electrical infrastructure for the war effort. He told me many times before he passed how badly he felt about his not being allowed to serve. They also serve who stay on the home front and keep things moving. His three sons all served during Korea, and 4 of his grandsons after that.

Anonymous said...

I had three great uncles that served in the the Pacific (German ancestry). None of them spoke much about the war.

- One was a Marine, and went into Iwo Jima a few days after the initial assault. The only time I ever hear him speak about the war, he said waiting about the ship in the harbor for a few days before going ashore was the worse than combat. You could smell death a dozen miles out to sea. He was wounded in combat, and was evacuated off Iwo Jima a few weeks after landing.
- Another uncle served in New Guinea, and was probably the nicest, kindest person I knew. A few years after his death, I found out he saw unimaginable brutality fighting the Japanese in the jungles of New Guinea, and suffered PTSD for a while after the war. What I wouldn't give to have a beer with him today, and I hoisted one in his honor this afternoon.
- The other uncle served in the Navy and was injured when a Kamikaze hit his destroyer while it was scouting landing beaches for the invasion of Japan.

All of them survived the war, and all of them thought the atomic bomb was the best invention of all time.

June J said...

My father served in WW2 as a radio operator/lineman for an artillery battalion. Participated in battles in Italy (Naples-Foggia, Rome-Arno), Southern France, Central Europe and Rhineland.
He never talked about what he saw except that once he came back from repairing a line and found an enemy shell had wiped out everyone in his squad but him.
Unfortunately, he passed away while I was in my mid twenties and still too stupid to try to have an adult relationship with him.

RM said...

My Dad was a LT in the Marine Corps Reserve when Pearl Harbor took place. When he finished his medical residency, the Corps threw his ass out and into the Navy because they wanted Riflemen not Doctors. He ended up as Ship's Doctor onboard an LST that landed on the border of Utah and Omaha Beach. He spent the day in blood red water trying to save the men from the Rich (DE-695) after they were struck almost simultaneously by shore battery fire and a sea mine. For several days he operated on combat casualties from both armies. When Saving Private Ryan came out I asked him if he wanted to go see it. He asked me "Why I would ever want to go back there again?" He ended up being part of the USN Technical Mission under Admiral Hall attached to Patton's 3rd Army because he was fluent in German and as a former Leatherneck they knew he would do well in the field. One of the stories my Dad told me was that during the link up with the the Soviet forces in Germany, there was an occasion when a Soviet Major was being transported back to the Soviet line by a USN Enlisted who was formerly a Cop in Chicago. Let's call him Steve. Steve came to my Dad and told him he needed to talk to him about something. Steve said as he was driving the Soviet Major, there was an old German man picking up firewood by the road. The Soviet Major pulled out his pistol and shot the old man, turned to Steve and laughed. My Dad said "What did you do?" Steve said "I pulled my pistol, shot the Major in the head and kicked his body out of the Jeep". My Dad said "You did the right thing but don't ever tell anyone else about it". My Dad passed away June 03, 2005 and every year on that date I still weep.

Anonymous said...

My granduncle was a glider pilot. He died in Normandy. I think about the balls it had to have taken to fly one of those things in combat... It's astounding.

The Freeholder said...

My Dad was refused when he tried to volunteer because he was in a protected job at a lumber mill. He told them they'd either take him or he'd quit and wait to be drafted. Eventually they would up taking him.

After that, they figured out he was seriously intelligent and they stuck him at NC State University to get a college degree in 18 months. He got himself thrown out by being an insubordinate SOB and continually requesting transfer to a combat unit.

After that, they tried to make him an aircraft mechanic. That worked out as well as the college thing.

Eventually, he was sent to the 9th Armored Division as a replacement, just in time for the Battle of the Bulge. He spent the first part of it fighting against the flow of the fleeing trying to get to his unit. After the 3rd Army linked up with Bastogne, he got there.

He was in the second company across the Ludendorf Bridge at Remagen. I didn't find this out until a couple of years before he died.

He did tell some stories about the war on occasion. Mostly they were funny, but as we both got older he told some of the other ones. I firmly believe Divine intervention is the reason he lived to father me.

After the war, he left the Army. Finding out there were no jobs, he re-joined when they came calling, served in the Army of Occupation and was stationed in Bremen in some sort of supply outfit. I don't know the details, be he came home with a considerable sum of cash, enough to buy a brand new car, marry a rich girl, get that annulled because she was apparently batshit crazy, get married again to my Mom and buy a house.

As with most of the men of his generation, he was one of a kind. He died in 2011.