Something to Think About on D Day

As we commemorate the D_Day landings , I offer something for you to think about.

James Albert Hard

James Albert Hard (July 15, 1843 – March 12, 1953) was the last verified combat veteran of the Civil War and the second-to-last verified veteran overall; only drummer-boy Albert Woolson post-deceased him. Though he claimed to have been born in 1841,[1] research in 2006 found that the 1850 Census indicated a birthdate of 1843. His war service record from 1861 was also located.

frank-buckles

Frank W. Buckles died on 28 February, 2011 sadly yet not unexpectedly at age 110, having achieved a singular feat of longevity that left him proud and a bit bemused. In 1917 and 1918, close to 5 million Americans served in World War I, and Mr. Buckles, a cordial fellow of gentle humor, was the last known survivor. Available records showing that former corporal Buckles, serial No. 15577, had outlived all of his compatriots from World War I, the Department of Veterans Affairs declared him the last doughboy standing.

16,112,566 individuals were members of the United States armed forces during World War II. There were 291,557 battle deaths, 113,842 other deaths in service (non-theater), and 670,846 non-mortal woundings. In November 2012, the Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that 1,462,809 American veterans from this war were still living. The Department of Veterans Affairs estimated that in 2011, 670 American World War II veterans died every day.[4] The median age for a World War II veteran in June 2011 was 92 years.

Today there is roughly about 300 survivors of DDay.

 

Before the politicians descend on Normandy, the D Day veterans arrived and for the last two days have met with young people.  One teenager asked a vet what his favorite memory of the war was. “Going home!” he answered.  Each vet is a living history of that day.  Priceless treasures that like so many before them are winking out.

If you know a veteran of World War Two.  If they are your great grandfather or a friend or a neighbor, please seek them out.  Talk to them and if they are willing, listen to them.  Then truly thank them for their service to our country and to you.

Then try really hard to remember their stories, their values, the reasons they stormed that beach on that day with their so very young lives at risk.

 

Many think they are forgotten.

Reach out to them before it’s too late.

My Dad Fought in World War Two

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

D Day, 69 Years Ago

June 6th, 1944. The Longest Day, the Day of Days. Operation Overlord was planned to be executed on D Day at H Hour.  It would be the assault on Hitler’s Fortress Europe.   Hitler had had years to prepare defenses along the French coast.  He knew we were coming, just not where.  On the eastern front, Russia was bleeding the Nazi’s dry.  But at a great cost to Russia.  The Allies had invaded North Africa and the Americans faced the Germans for the first time at the Kaserene Pass.  The Americans were soundly defeated.  General Patton was brought in to rebuild and then invaded Sicily.  Sicily was secured, barely and then the Allies invaded Italy.  British Prime Minister  Churchill called it “The soft underbelly of Europe”.  It wasn’t.   The allies tried to invade France at Dieppe and were thrown back into the sea.  Dieppe was such a disaster that the operation was renamed from “Invasion” to “Raid”.

It was in June of 1944 and on the backs of failure General Eisenhower was tasked to try again.  Amassing the largest invasion force in the history of warfare, the landings were far from certain.  In fact he penned a press release if the invasion failed.

“Our landings in the Cherbourg-Havre area have failed to gain a satisfactory foothold and I have withdrawn the troops. My decision to attack at this time and place was based upon the best information available. The troops, the air and the Navy did all that Bravery and devotion to duty could do. If any blame or fault attaches to the attempt it is mine alone.”

Planning depended on the tides and the moon. June 5th was settled on. Then the weather turned to crap. With all the men loaded on ships and boats they could not be unloaded and reloaded if the weather broke. Eisenhower ordered a hold and they remained on board. Tossed around and seasick. Experts predicted a short break for the 6th and Eisenhower ordered the attack. This was much like the order General Longstreet gave during the third day at Gettysburg. June 6th could well end as disastrous as Pickett’s Charge.

The soldiers in the landing craft were either seasick or over-dozed on seasick pills. The airborne force was similarly doped up on airsick pills. And yet they attacked.

Field Marshall Rommel promised Hitler that the Allies would be thrown back into the sea as at Dieppe. It was a very near thing. The first waves to hit the beach were devastated. Command and Control was shattered. Yet, a Officer here or an NCO there gather small groups of men and pressed against the wall of death. In the opening scene of “Saving Private Ryan” some one  screams at Captain Miller, “Where’s the rally point?”. Miller screams back, ‘ANY WHERE BUT HERE!” So it was.

The Allies did catch a break of sorts. Hitler had transferred much of his combat tested troops to the eastern front leaving untried reservists to man the barricades. So both sides had few soldiers who had seen combat. The Americans in the boats were facing certain death and the Germans on the hills were to defend to the death. Nobody had a free ride. Except for maybe the British on Sword beach where resistance was so light some officers stopped for tea.

Against all odds, D Day was a success.  Hitler would be defeated in less than a year.  The shadow of a planet enslaved by Fascism was rolled back.

Today, these boys of the Greatest Generation are fading away.  Quietly dying one by one without their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren never knowing their heroics.

If you have a relative or a friend who is a WWII vet, go talk to them today. They are America’s Greatest Generation and they are disappearing fast. Thank them before it’s too late.

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Famous Veterans