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We stopped at STE.-MÈR-EGLISE, France mid-morning. That village was immortalized in D Day with Red Buttons. See further below for more photos.






The approach:

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This is a depiction of Steele and Red Buttons to make good photos and stories:

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This is the back, where Steele was actually caught:

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After being inland, where the AB landed and fought, we moved to the landing sites. My narrative may decline. They still just take my breath away.
I get updates from the Church offering up wedding scenarios. If I could just get the daughter to go for it...
 

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Off the top of my head, I have know two men who went ashore at Normandy. Both went in at Utah Beach; one three days after the invasion, the other two weeks later. Both saw combat. The one who went in three days after the invasion was in combat for 22 months.

My wife used to work with a man at ASA (Army Security Agency) in the later 60's who went in the morning of the 6th on Omaha Beach. He was in the 116th infantry regiment of the 29th Division. He told her some interesting stories once he opened up and talked.
 

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I've been to the Memorial at Bedford. The spouses uncle was badly wounded in Normandy several days after the invasion. As a side note the Army wanted amphibious tractors for the D-Day landings that the Marine Corps were employing in the Pacific. The Army requirement would have taken the total production away from the Marines, thus the Senior Marine Corps leadership protested to such and extent that the Army didn't acquire amphibious tractors till later on which were employed to limited extent in crossing the Rhine river.
The LVT-4 was supposed to debut at Normandy , there were parks full of them and the earlier LVT-2 and -2(A) .Seems like Bradley thought they were toys . So, the -4 had it's debut at Saipan instead .
Fun fact, the Army had something like six LVT's for every one the Corps had , more if you count the LVT-1(A) and 4(A) At the UTAH beach museum there's a wrecked LVT-2 inside , no armored cab. It was used to haul supplies up to the beach, made several trips until it kissed a Teller mine .

The Brits debuted the -4 , in fact, used them to assault the Scheldt Estuary , something Monty sort of forgot about until it became apparent that Antwerp. without a means to get there , was fairly useless .

See what happens when one has no life?

Here the National WW II Museum put on a huge show, very much a big event.
 

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These are from Omaha Beach. After Utah Beach and the stories our guide told, I forgot to take photos, and just kind of numbly followed absorbing his stories. He used hinged flip boards to show attack formations, and had the names and ranks down cold that added human drama. Our group was only eight including me and Nancy, so it was very personalized, and our guide so knowledgable, I just lost track of much of it. Writing this thread brings much back. At each location we stopped, he had personal stories of heroes and knew from where they came, how they ended up in that location, at that moment. It was riveting all day.

Obviously he knew the story of Richard Winter, and the assault at Brecourt Manor and as memorialized in Band of Brothers. He was a huge fan of that series. He also spoke of poor intelligence, for instance, the artillery supposedly above Utah Beach and the cliffs, which had been moved inland several hundred meters. Hence the naval bombardments were all off target. The top of the cliffs have not been restored. But for the grasses growing, it looked like a huge steam shovel had dug hundreds of craters, even eroded after 75 years, still 15 and twenty feet deep.

He spoke of the breach created on Omaha Beach using the Bangalore Grenades and the Rangers leading the way up the draw. He had tears in his eyes as he spoke of the bravery.

Omaha Beach is now a summertime resort. Houses, villas, and flats dot the edge of the dunes in some areas, and swimmers and the like use the vast beaches. Evidence of the turmoil is still present, including memorials, statutes, flags and the like. It was quite overwhelming.
 

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At the end of the day, about 3:45 PM, we arrived at the American Cemetery. I will probably present these without comment. It is beautiful. It is gorgeous. It is quiet, somber, and reflective. It took our breath away.

The Cemetery Staff struck the colors at 4:00, and with Taps, everyone was in tears. He had another hour there, to wander, reflect and discover.


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And, to put a wrap on Normandy, if such can be done, I am posting some photos of our guide. He was a marvelous chap, Welsh, had been a WWII buff since he wore three cornered pants, and spent his holidays tromping around old battlefields with a metal detector and shovels.



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He got a huge tip from me that day. I was just overwhelmed with his knowledge, skill and enthusiasm. He earned it.
 

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And...........Our dinner!

French Onion Soup and Crepes. Plus a bottle of wine. The next day we stayed in Bayeaux to recover physically, emotionally, and spiritually.

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And the obligatory bottle of French wine. Oui!
 

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I was just watching this again, in case some have never seen it.

OldVet not many things brings tears to my eyes. Thank you for that video. Thank you to the young man and his father. Thanks to all the Men who lost their lives at Normandy and during D Day.
 

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Oh man! This is great Richard! Thanks so much for posting these photos and links. It also warms the heart to see the comments made by Forum members who appreciate the day and the sacrifice.

We did the Normandy Beach thing from one end to the other. Took our boys when they were 12 and 10. Moving experience we'll never forget. Have tons of photos but never have loaded them in the computer.

One of the photographs is of a marker in the American Cemetery Pointe Du Hoc. Particularly sobering it was. I was looking for a "Texas boy" and came upon it. The "Texas boy" buried there happened to have been born on the same day as my father who served in the Pacific in World War II.

It was a gray, misty day, running to drizzle that day in the cemetery. Almost uncomfortably cool though it was late June. We walked into the cemetery and I was struck by the shear number of markers spreading out before my eyes. Then I walked to toward the center of the cemetery to discover that I'd only seen the front portion.
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My Yorkshire friend who is a huge World War II buff and who along with his family had traveled to Normandy with us stood in the small center monument out of the drizzle for awhile and contemplated things. I kept thinking about that "Texas boy" and my dad and "what if"... Then an iron bell in the distance began tolling the 11 o'clock hour. Pushed me over the edge, it did and the tears flowed. I looked around to find my friend also unable to "keep a stiff upper lip." He moved away and began looking another direction. That bell ...

Richard, I wonder if y'all ate in the same restaurant where we dined for lunch later that day in Sainte-Mère-…glise . We all had pizza and it was yum. It had very thin crust, sort of "less is more" sort of a thing. Later went through a small museum that featured a Waco glider.

Off the subject but did you take in the Bayeaux Tapestry?

History just "floats my boat!!!"
 

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I read the Peanuts cartoon online yesterday. It was a tribute to the Greatest Generation and D-Day. The first comment was, "That’s nice, but we already have Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day." There is very little hope for the future. :mad::mad:
There were USA haters then and there always will be. Screw em.
 

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I was looking for a "Texas boy" and came upon it. The "Texas boy" buried there happened to have been born on the same day as my father who served in the Pacific in World War II.
All of our WW II Veterans should be celebrated everyday. They saved Europe from Hitler, perhaps even the World, if you consider what his scientists had developed.

My Father did not participate in the invasion, but his division (84th ID) landed on Omaha Beach, 1–4 November 1944, and moved to the vicinity of Gulpen, the Netherlands, 5–12 November and then the Battle of the Bulge, where they successfully held the left flank. They thereafter liberated two Extermination Camps. My Father spoke nary a word of that period of life, other than two funny stories about "liberating" chicken eggs from a barn. :rofl:

I only knew he was in the 84th ID when I found a book his mother had given him upon his return from Europe - a history of the 84th in WWII she had dedicated to him. It matched the few bits and pieces I'd overheard.

He detested the cold, and his feet and hands were always troublesome when cold.
 

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I would have loved to been a "fly on the wall" if your dad had opened up to you about his experiences. That's the way so many of those veterans who were "really there" behaved about talking about it. They just wouldn't.

In my lending career with banks I interviewed a lot of loan applicants who were World War II veterans. I'd look for birth dates prior to about 1927 on the loan application of prospective customers then pop the question: "What did you do in the War." For that matter I even interviewed some World War I veterans as late as 1991 when a World War I veteran customer cosigned for his granddaughter on a consumer loan. Man! I am geezerly!

Anyway, one could "read" them pretty well. They followed a pattern. There were the ones who were reticent about telling their tale and deserved the consideration of being left alone, the ones who were willing to share their honest and real tales of derring do, and the ones who looked for any excuse to brag about "eating dead, burnt bodies" or otherwise embellishing their war career as cooks or truck drivers. Not that the military can do without support personnel, or that those who served in such capacities should not be lauded for what they did or should feel somehow diminished, but hey ... some of the stories were way over the top.

"Son" Wikie and his wife were good friends of my parents. "Son" was a upstanding man in church and in the community, a jovial man with a merry twinkle in his eye who loved clowning around with young boys, which I was at the time. He always had gum in his suit coat pocket for us after church. He'd organize camping, fishing, hunting trips for fathers and sons. My dad and I got to go on some dove hunts with "Son" and my dad went deer hunting with him a few times. He was a talker and he laughed a lot. His service in the U. S. Army was understood to be off limits to any discussion though. I had an interest in history, particularly World War II history from an early age. As I got older he never would talk to me about it though. Later my dad told me that "Son" went ashore on the initial assault at Normandy on D-Day. As they were wading ashore "Son's" best Army bud took a direct hit from an 88 mere yards away from him. "Son" washed his best bud's residue off in the surf before he'd even gained the beach.

We had an Alvarado, Texas Constable who did 3rd party collections investigations for us at a bank for which I was employed throughout the 1980s, C. E. "Jack" Fannon, also known as "Red" Fannon. He was a very colorful character and had a lot of tales of Army service in the Island-Hopping campaigns of the Pacific Theater. Great tales he told, but they were of horseplay, girls, and buddies he made while in the service. His World War II field career consisted entirely of reworking battlefield pick-up M1 Carbines and of moving from island to island, depot to depot installing the 2nd variation adjustable rear sights on M1 Carbines. Every one of his tales of reworking the rifles, the configuration and material the 2nd variation sights were made of, rang true with reference works I later acquired on the M1 Carbine. After getting the books on the subject I appreciated his eye for detail about the Carbine and the accuracy of his memory. I felt like I knew stuff about the M1 Carbine and its wartime upgrades long before I read anything about it because of Red.
 

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I had to almost pry stories out of my WWII Seabee dad. A late one was that he helped build the two pits used to load the atomic bombs on the Enola Gay and Bocks car.

Another was when on either Saipan or Tinian, some guys in his unit found a small distillery with a small "water" tower filled with sake. He said it was all fun and games until two days later one of the guys looked inside and found a very bloated Japanese soldier floating inside.

He never touched sake again.
 

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I had to almost pry stories out of my WWII Seabee dad. A late one was that he helped build the two pits used to load the atomic bombs on the Enola Gay and Bocks car.

Another was when on either Saipan or Tinian, some guys in his unit found a small distillery with a small "water" tower filled with sake. He said it was all fun and games until two days later one of the guys looked inside and found a very bloated Japanese soldier floating inside.

He never touched sake again.
Years ago, I worked at an electrical wholesale store. Several of the men there had been in WWII. Two of them were marines and island hoppers. One was with a machine gun crew and I don't know what the other one did but I know he was on Tinian during the summer of 1945. One the night of August 5, he and a few of his buddies sneaked out of there huts and made it over to a hill overlooking North field. He knew something big was going on because there were still so many marines on the island. He saw all of the lights and people on the field and around a few B29's. He wound up watching the Enola Gay take off.

In 1988, I visited the Paul Garber facility in Suitland, MD where the Enola Gay was in several large pieces and one of the test dummy bombs was in a crate in front of the fuselage. The plane was still in its raw condition but I did see the shackles in the bombay that held Little Boy in place and the names of the crew on the starboard side of the plane.
 

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When I was a little kid I had a very close friend who's father fought in the European theater. He brought back some very interesting things from the war. A German Mauser, a Luger, a Nazi flag, a German helmet, and a German submachine gun which was either an MP38 or an MP40 (can't remember which one). This friend and I used to play war in his back yard with that submachine gun and thought nothing of it.
 

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My "Uncle Bill Morgan," the youngest of my great uncles on my mother's side and not much older than my dad, was a Marine BAR-man, island-hopping in the Pacific. Stayed in after the War and made a career out of the Corps. Later settled in Hawaii so I only ever saw him a few times in my life. He and his sweet Japanese wife came to Texas and visited my parents in 1985. Our youngest son just born, had only been home from the hospital three days and the evening spent at my parents' house with Uncle Bill was his first outing. We have snapshots of Uncle Bill holding him. A very rewarding evening was had that day, listening to Uncle Bill relating tales. He was "there" for much of it, start to finish. He enlisted in 1942 at 17. He maintained a philosophical outlook about his wartime experience and related it easily. He told some stirring and harrowing tales. BARmen, well machinegunners in general, were not popular with the enemy. I regret that I didn't make notes or even record it as I should have. I had no idea what he would get into in the discussion of that evening. I'm sorry that I can't recall any of it now.

Uncle Bill must have pre-programed our son that very night for he never deviated from a desire to commit to military service and when he got out of college he immediately enlisted in the Marine Corps as a ... wait for it ... machinegunner.
 

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My grandfather served as an Army Chaplain in WWI. I know from my grandmother telling me, that he was "gassed" at least 3 times. She said he told her about one attack that was particularly bad as he watched some guys who couldn't get their kit on in time. She was frightened by his descriptions of what he saw, and wouldn't tell me about it.

Our neighbor down the street was a Marine. He was on Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and one other island (Peleliu, IIRC) before being shipped home. He had a Japanese bolt action rifle, an Arisaka, which he let us neighborhood kids play with. It had the bolt removed. I still remember the terrible hatred he had for anything Japanese.

My dad never would talk about the horrors he faced in 30+ raids as a B-17 pilot. He told us funny stuff after they were shot down and crash landed behind Russian lines, but never would speak of the other stuff.

I was assigned as the Hospice Chaplain to a guy who was one of the medics and a member of Merrill’s Marauders. He had a Silver Star hanging on his bedroom wall. Sadly, he had only a few weeks to live, and he was estranged from his entire family. The nurses, Social Workers, and I became his family. He confessed to me his fear of not going to heaven because there were so many of the soldiers under his care that he could not save. He was genuinely terrified. I talked for hours and prayed for and with him, until he finally had some peace in his heart and mind. He passed away quietly while we held his hand.

Sad that so many of those who lived through it, have now gone home.

Everybody is probably tired of me posting video, but just one mare:

 

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Not tired at all, @OldChap. I just got goosebumps.

My Father spoke nary a word of that period of life, other than two funny stories about "liberating" chicken eggs from a barn.
@rstickle may shed some light on the veracity of this account, but my Father indicated he and a group of "engineers or what-have-yous" would go out on EOD Disposal sorties at night before attempted advances. I truly don't know or understand the details of what was done, but as he related it, they often stumbled onto / into barns, chicken coops, and the like, and occasionally "liberated" a few eggs or chickens or what have you. As the team consisted of many men, at the end of the night they'd move to the rear, and share the "prizes" of the night with each other.

One man in particular, however, never shared, never.

Apparently, after an especially long, hard, or frustrating night, they returned, regrouped, and the selfish guy had a entire helmet full of fresh eggs he was refusing to share. No one else had a single prize.

Apparently in a real pique, one of the team-mates sauntered over to lovingly gaze at the fresh eggs, and then proceeded to scramble the eggs, shell and all, with the muddy butt of his rifle, tipped over the scrambled contents, scowled at the scofflaw, and sauntered off.

That story may have been embellished if only to mean more to me, and serve as a reminder to share, but I still remember the idea of a bunch of muddy scrambled eggs, shells and all, going wasted in the worst of circumstances.
 
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