Archive for the ‘Hero’ Category
Straight from Fox News: “I’ve interviewed presidents, prime ministers, celebrities and superstars, and it’s been a privilege to talk to them all. But I’m not sure I would put any of them on a par with a man called Arthur Seltzer, a man whose story is as inspirational as it is humbling, the story of an ordinary man who did extraordinary things.
Not that Arthur was alone in his endeavors. He was one of tens of thousands of young Americans who on June 6, 1944, took part in the D-Day landings, an unprecedented invasion that took so many lives, but ultimately saved the world from being crushed under the Nazi jackboot.
Arthur, 84, of Cherry Hill, N.J. has only recently begun to talk about his traumatic experiences, and only then because his granddaughter unwittingly forced him to. She was doing a school project on the Holocaust and asked him if he knew anything about it. Arthur knew more than his granddaughter could have imagined. She wrote about his experiences and got an “A” for her assignment. She then called Arthur and told him she had told her teacher he’d be happy to come in and talk about his experiences. Arthur was terrified, not of standing in front of a class full of kids, but of reliving some of the most horrific memories of his life in public. But, being the man that he is, he couldn’t let his grand-daughter down, so he stood in front of them and told them the story he is now also sharing with FOX News, the story of what he calls “the longest day of my life.”
On June 6 1944, Arthur Seltzer, then just 19 years old, a communications specialist with the 4th Signals Battalion, was attached to a unit of the 29th Infantry. As they approached Omaha Beach at dawn the men on Arthur’s landing craft signed a dollar bill — 36 signatures, a signal of their bond, a lucky dollar in Arthur seltzer’s pocket. Minutes later they were in the water.
“We were in the 3rd and 4th wave going in,” says Arthur, “and we were told not to go out the front of the ship but to go over the side of the ship so I had 60 pounds of equipment on my back, soldiers had their stuff and so over the sides we went. I can’t swim. I wasn’t worried about getting shot, I was worried about not drowning. When we finally got to the beach there was no craters for us to hide in and naturally machine guns up there were firing. Omaha got the name ‘bloody Omaha’ because the only thing you could see was soldiers lying on the beach that were dead, blood all around you.”
I asked Arthur what thoughts were going through his head as he waded through the blood-red water and on to the beach, also littered with the bodies of his dead comrades.
“Well basically I believe each one was trying to say where can I go to be saved, where can I hide, where can I be that I won’t get hit.”
His main objective, he said, was simply to stay alive.
Arthur did stay alive, and later on that fateful day he saw the sergeant whose idea it had been to sign the dollar bill, a dollar bill Arthur has kept to this day.
“He says, ‘You and I are the only two survived from that landing craft,’ and I said to him. ‘You mean you lost your whole squad?’ and he says, “Yes I lost my whole squad.”
Arthur Seltzer’s war did not end on D-Day. He went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge, forever known as the greatest battle of the war, and on April 29, 1945, Arthur, who is Jewish, was with the American troops who discovered the Dachau concentration camp.
Arthur describes the scene as, “Dead bodies all around, naked skeletons, people dressed in these uniforms with black stripes, they were half starved, the odor was so bad you could hardly take it. The odor of death.”
Six and a half decades on, Arthur still suffers from post traumatic stress. But he’s learned to talk about his experiences, to pause when he needs to, to relieve the tension by pulling at a rubberband he wears on his wrist, something he did regularly during our hourlong conversation.
When I asked him how he deals with these anniversaries he became particularly emotional.
“Every June 6 the first thing I do is put my flag out.” Arthur then paused, clearly struggling with the memories. “That’s very important to me. It’s a bad day for me.” At this point he stopped, the tears began to flow and he pulled at the rubber band. Eventually he gathered himself and said simply, “It brings back a lot of memories.”
But Arthur Seltzer also told me he is ready to move on. “It’s a different generation.” I asked him whether we should forgive but not forget, to which he replied, “That’s correct. You never forget any anniversary, you don’t forget the friends you lost when you served over there you don’t forget the people who gave their lives to make this country a free country.”
Arthur Seltzer is not just an American hero, he is a world hero. As someone born in Britain I could have been born into a country where German was the first language, where Nazis ruled, had it not been for the efforts of Arthur and so many Americans like him. On this anniversary I owe him, and every D-Day veteran, a huge debt of thanks. We all do. To steal NBC anchor Tom Brokaw’s book title, they truly are The Greatest Generation.”
The Atlantic Monthly | November 1960
First Wave at Omaha Beach
When he was promoted to officer rank at eighteen, S. L. A. MARSHALL was the youngest shavetail in the United States Army during World War I. He rejoined the Army in 1942, became a combat historian with the rank of colonel; and the notes he made at the time of the Normandy landing are the source of this heroic reminder. Readers will remember his frank and ennobling book about Korea, THE RIVER AND THE GAUNTLET, which was the result of still a third tour of duty.
by S. L. A. Marshall – UNLIKE what happens to other great battles, the passing of the years and the retelling of the story have softened the horror of Omaha Beach on D Day.
This fluke of history is doubly ironic since no other decisive battle has ever been so thoroughly reported for the official record. While the troops were still fighting in Normandy, what had happened to each unit in the landing had become known through the eyewitness testimony of all survivors. It was this research by the field historians which first determined where each company had hit the beach and by what route it had moved inland. Owing to the fact that every unit save one had been mislanded, it took this work to show the troops where they had fought.
How they fought and what they suffered were also determined in detail during the field research. As published today, the map data showing where the troops came ashore check exactly with the work done in the field; but the accompanying narrative describing their ordeal is a sanitized version of the original field notes.
The Longest Day misses the essence of the Omaha story.
In everything that has been written about Omaha until now, there is less blood and iron than in the original field notes covering any battalion landing in the first wave. Doubt it? Then let’s follow along with Able and Baker companies, 116th Infantry, 29th Division. Their story is lifted from my fading Normandy notebook, which covers the landing of every Omaha company.
ABLE Company riding the tide in seven Higgins boats is still five thousand yards from the beach when first taken under artillery fire. The shells fall short. At one thousand yards, Boat No. 5 is hit dead on and foundered. Six men drown before help arrives. Second Lieutenant Edward Gearing and twenty others paddle around until picked up by naval craft, thereby missing the fight at the shore line. It’s their lucky day. The other six boats ride unscathed to within one hundred yards of the shore, where a shell into Boat No. 3 kills two men. Another dozen drown, taking to the water as the boat sinks. That leaves five boats.
Lieutenant Edward Tidrick in Boat No. 2 cries out: “My God, we’re coming in at the right spot, but look at it! No shingle, no wall, no shell holes, no cover. Nothing!”
His men are at the sides of the boat, straining for a view of the target. They stare but say nothing. At exactly 6:36 A.M. ramps are dropped along the boat line and the men jump off in water anywhere from waist deep to higher than a man’s head. This is the signal awaited by the Germans atop the bluff. Already pounded by mortars, the floundering line is instantly swept by crossing machine-gun fires from both ends of the beach.
Able Company has planned to wade ashore in three files from each boat, center file going first, then flank files peeling off to right and left. The first men out try to do it but are ripped apart before they can make five yards. Even the lightly wounded die by drowning, doomed by the waterlogging of their overloaded packs. From Boat No. 1, all hands jump off in water over their heads. Most of them are carried down. Ten or so survivors get around the boat and clutch at its sides in an attempt to stay afloat. The same thing happens to the section in Boat No. 4. Half of its people are lost to the fire or tide before anyone gets ashore. All order has vanished from Able Company before it has fired a shot.
Already the sea runs red. Even among some of the lightly wounded who jumped into shallow water the hits prove fatal. Knocked down by a bullet in the arm or weakened by fear and shock, they are unable to rise again and are drowned by the onrushing tide. Other wounded men drag themselves ashore and, on finding the sands, lie quiet from total exhaustion, only to be overtaken and killed by the water. A few move safely through the bullet swarm to the beach, then find that they cannot hold there. They return to the water to use it for body cover. Faces turned upward, so that their nostrils are out of water, they creep toward the land at the same rate as the tide. That is how most of the survivors make it. The less rugged or less clever seek the cover of enemy obstacles moored along the upper half of the beach and are knocked off by machine-gun fire.
Within seven minutes after the ramps drop, Able Company is inert and leaderless. At Boat No. 2, Lieutenant Tidrick takes a bullet through the throat as he jumps from the ramp into the water. He staggers onto the sand and flops down ten feet from Private First Class Leo J. Nash. Nash sees the blood spurting and hears the strangled words gasped by Tidrick: “Advance with the wire cutters!” It’s futile; Nash has no cutters. To give the order, Tidrick has raised himself up on his hands and made himself a target for an instant. Nash, burrowing into the sand, sees machine gun bullets rip Tidrick from crown to pelvis. From the cliff above, the German gunners are shooting into the survivors as from a roof top.
Captain Taylor N. Fellers and Lieutenant Benjamin R. Kearfoot never make it. They had loaded with a section of thirty men in Boat No. 6 (Landing Craft, Assault, No. 1015). But exactly what happened to this boat and its human cargo was never to be known. No one saw the craft go down. How each man aboard it met death remains unreported. Half of the drowned bodies were later found along the beach. It is supposed that the others were claimed by the sea.
Along the beach, only one Able Company officer still lives—Lieutenant Elijah Nance, who is hit in the heel as he quits the boat and hit in the belly by a second bullet as he makes the sand. By the end of ten minutes, every sergeant is either dead or wounded. To the eyes of such men as Private Howard I. Grosser and Private First Class Gilbert G. Murdock, this clean sweep suggests that the Germans on the high ground have spotted all leaders and concentrated fire their way. Among the men who are still moving in with the tide, rifles, packs, and helmets have already been cast away in the interests of survival.
To the right of where Tidrick’s boat is drifting with the tide, its coxswain lying dead next to the shell-shattered wheel, the seventh craft, carrying a medical section with one officer and sixteen men, noses toward the beach. The ramp drops. In that instant, two machine guns concentrate their fire on the opening. Not a man is given time to jump. All aboard are cut down where they stand.
By the end of fifteen minutes, Able Company has still not fired a weapon. No orders are being given by anyone. No words are spoken. The few able-bodied survivors move or not as they see fit. Merely to stay alive is a full-time job. The fight has become a rescue operation in which nothing counts but the force of a strong example.
Above all others stands out the first-aid man, Thomas Breedin. Reaching the sands, he strips off pack, blouse, helmet, and boots. For a moment he stands there so that others on the strand will see him and get the same idea. Then he crawls into the water to pull in wounded men about to be overlapped by the tide. The deeper water is still spotted with tide walkers advancing at the same pace as the rising water. But now, owing to Breedin’s example, the strongest among them become more conspicuous targets. Coming along, they pick up wounded comrades and float them to the shore raftwise. Machine-gun fire still rakes the water. Burst after burst spoils the rescue act, shooting the floating man from the hands of the walker or killing both together. But Breedin for this hour leads a charmed life and stays with his work indomitably.
By the end of one half hour, approximately two thirds of the company is forever gone. There is no precise casualty figure for that moment. There is for the Normandy landing as a whole no accurate figure for the first hour or first day. The circumstances precluded it. Whether more Able Company riflemen died from water than from fire is known only to heaven. All earthly evidence so indicates, but cannot prove it.
By the end of one hour, the survivors from the main body have crawled across the sand to the foot of the bluff, where there is a narrow sanctuary of defiladed space. There they lie all day, clean spent, unarmed, too shocked to feel hunger, incapable even of talking to one another. No one happens by to succor them, ask what has happened, provide water, or offer unwanted pity. D Day at Omaha afforded no time or space for such missions. Every landing company was overloaded by its own assault problems.
By the end of one hour and forty-five minutes, six survivors from the boat section on the extreme right shake loose and work their way to a shelf a few rods up the cliff. Four fall exhausted from the short climb and advance no farther. They stay there through the day, seeing no one else from the company. The other two, Privates Jake Shefer and Thomas Lovejoy, join a group from the Second Ranger Battalion, which is assaulting Pointe du Hoc to the right of the company sector, and fight on with the Rangers through the day. Two men. Two rifles. Except for these, Able Company’s contribution to the D Day fire fight is a cipher.
BAKER Company which is scheduled to land twenty-six minutes after Able and right on top of it, supporting and reinforcing, has had its full load of trouble on the way in. So rough is the sea during the journey that the men have to bail furiously with their helmets to keep the six boats from swamping. Thus preoccupied, they do not see the disaster which is overtaking Able until they are almost atop it. Then, what their eyes behold is either so limited or so staggering to the senses that control withers, the assault wave begins to dissolve, and disunity induced by fear virtually cancels the mission. A great cloud of smoke and dust raised by the mortar and machine-gun fire has almost closed a curtain around Able Company’s ordeal. Outside the pall, nothing is to be seen but a line of corpses adrift, a few heads bobbing in the water and the crimson-running tide. But this is enough for the British coxswains. They raise the cry: “We can’t go in there. We can’t see the landmarks. We must pull off.”
In the command boat, Captain Ettore V. Zappacosta pulls a Colt .45 and says: “By God, you’ll take this boat straight in.” His display of courage wins obedience, but it’s still a fool’s order. Such of Baker’s boats as try to go straight in suffer Able’s fate without helping the other company whatever. Thrice during the approach mortar shells break right next to Zappacosta’s boat but by an irony leave it unscathed, thereby sparing the riders a few more moments of life. At seventy-five yards from the sand Zappacosta yells: “Drop the ramp !” The end goes down, and a storm of bullet fire comes in.
Zappacosta jumps first from the boat, reels ten yards through the elbow-high tide, and yells back: “I’m hit.” He staggers on a few more steps. The aid man, Thomas Kenser, sees him bleeding from hip and shoulder. Kenser yells: “Try to make it in; I’m coming.” But the captain falls face forward into the wave, and the weight of his equipment and soaked pack pin him to the bottom. Kenser jumps toward him and is shot dead while in the air. Lieutenant Tom Dallas of Charley Company, who has come along to make a reconnaissance, is the third man. He makes it to the edge of the sand. There a machine-gun burst blows his head apart before he can flatten.
Private First Class Robert L. Sales, who is lugging Zappacosta’s radio (an SCR 300), is the fourth man to leave the boat, having waited long enough to see the others die. His boot heel catches on the edge of the ramp and he falls sprawling into the tide, losing the radio but saving his life. Every man who tries to follow him is either killed or wounded before reaching dry land. Sales alone gets to the beach unhit. To travel those few yards takes him two hours. First he crouches in the water, and waddling forward on his haunches just a few paces, collides with a floating log—driftwood. In that moment, a mortar shell explodes just above his head, knocking him groggy. He hugs the log to keep from going down, and somehow the effort seems to clear his head a little. Next thing he knows, one of Able Company’s tide walkers hoists him aboard the log and, using his sheath knife, cuts away Sales’s pack, boots, and assault jacket.
Feeling stronger, Sales returns to the water, and from behind the log, using it as cover, pushes toward the sand. Private Mack L. Smith of Baker Company, hit three times through the face, joins him there. An Able Company rifleman named Kemper, hit thrice in the right leg, also comes alongside. Together they follow the log until at last they roll it to the farthest reach of high tide. Then they flatten themselves behind it, staying there for hours after the flow has turned to ebb. The dead of both companies wash up to where they lie, and then wash back out to sea again. As a body drifts in close to them, Sales and companions, disregarding the fire, crawl from behind the log to take a look. If any one of them recognizes the face of a comrade, they join in dragging the body up onto the dry sand beyond the water’s reach. The unfamiliar dead are left to the sea. So long as the tide is full, they stay with this unique task. Later, an unidentified first-aid man who comes wiggling along the beach dresses the wounds of Smith. Sales, as he finds strength, bandages Kemper. The three remain behind the log until night falls. There is nothing else to be reported of any member of Zappacosta’s boat team.
Only one other Baker Company boat tries to come straight in to the beach. Somehow the boat founders. Somehow all of its people are killed—one British coxswain and about thirty American infantrymen. Where they fall, there is no one to take note of and report.
FRIGHTENED coxswains in the other four craft take one quick look, instinctively draw back, and then veer right and left away from the Able Company shambles. So doing, they dodge their duty while giving a break to their passengers. Such is the shock to the boat team leaders, and such their feeling of relief at the turning movement, that not one utters a protest. Lieutenant Leo A. Pingenot’s coxswain swings the boat far rightward toward Pointe du Hoc; then, spying a small and deceptively peaceful-looking cove, heads directly for the land. Fifty yards out, Pingenot yells: “Drop the ramp!” The coxswain freezes on the rope, refusing to lower. Staff Sergeant Odell L. Padgett jumps him, throttles him, and bears him to the floor. Padgett’s men lower the rope and jump for the water. In two minutes, they are all in up to their necks and struggling to avoid drowning. That quickly, Pingenot is already far out ahead of them. Padgett comes even with him, and together they cross onto dry land. The beach of the cove is heavily strewn with giant boulders. Bullets seem to be pinging off every rock.
Pingenot and Padgett dive behind the same rock. Then they glance back, but to their horror see not one person. Quite suddenly smoke has half blanked out the scene beyond the water’s edge. Pingenot moans: “My God, the whole boat team is dead.” Padgett sings out: “Hey, are you hit?” Back come many voices from beyond the smoke. “What’s the rush?” “Take it easy!” “We’ll get there.” “Where’s the fire?” “Who wants to know?” The men are still moving along, using the water as cover. Padgett’s yell is their first information that anyone else has moved up front. They all make it to the shore, and they are twenty-eight strong at first. Pingenot and Padgett manage to stay ahead of them, coaxing and encouraging. Padgett keeps yelling: “Come on, goddam it, things are better up here!” But still they lose two men killed and three wounded in crossing the beach.
In the cove, the platoon latches on to a company of Rangers, fights all day as part of that company, and helps destroy the enemy entrenchments atop Pointe du Hoc. By sundown that mop-up is completed. The platoon bivouacs at the first hedgerow beyond the cliff.
The other Baker Company boat, which turns to the right, has far less luck. Staff Sergeant Robert M. Campbell, who leads the section, is the first man to jump out when the ramp goes down. He drops in drowning water, and his load of two bangalore torpedoes takes him straight to the bottom. So he jettisons the bangalores and then, surfacing, cuts away all equipment for good measure. Machine-gun fire brackets him, and he submerges again briefly. Never a strong swimmer, he heads back out to sea. For two hours he paddles around, two hundred or so yards from the shore. Though he hears and sees nothing of the battle, he somehow gets the impression that the invasion has failed and that all other Americans are dead, wounded, or have been taken prisoner. Strength fast going, in despair he moves ashore rather than drown. Beyond the smoke he quickly finds the fire. So he grabs a helmet from a dead man’s head, crawls on hands and knees to the sea wall, and there finds five of his men, two of them unwounded.
Like Campbell, Private First Class Jan J. Budziszewski is carried to the bottom by his load of two bangalores. He hugs them half a minute before realizing that he will either let loose or drown. Next, he shucks off his helmet and pack and drops his rifle. Then he surfaces. After swimming two hundred yards, he sees that he is moving in exactly the wrong direction. So he turns about and heads for the beach, where he crawls ashore “under a rain of bullets.” In his path lies a dead Ranger. Budziszewski takes the dead man’s helmet, rifle, and canteen and crawls on to the sea wall. The only survivor from Campbell’s boat section to get off the beach, he spends his day walking to and fro along the foot of the bluff, looking for a friendly face. But he meets only strangers, and none shows any interest in him.
In Lieutenant William B. Williams’ boat, the coxswain steers sharp left and away from Zappacosta’s sector. Not seeing the captain die, Williams doesn’t know that command has now passed to him. Guiding on his own instinct, the coxswain moves along the coast six hundred yards, then puts the boat straight in. It’s a good guess; he has found a little vacuum in the battle. The ramp drops on dry sand and the boat team jumps ashore. Yet it’s a close thing. Mortar fire has dogged them all the way; and as the last rifleman clears the ramp, one shell lands dead center of the boat, blows it apart, and kills the coxswain. Momentarily, the beach is free of fire, but the men cannot cross it at a bound. Weak from seasickness and fear, they move at a crawl, dragging their equipment. By the end of twenty minutes, Williams and ten men are over the sand and resting in the lee of the sea wall. Five others are hit by machine-gun fire crossing the beach; six men, last seen while taking cover in a tidal pocket, are never heard from again. More mortar fire lands around the party as Williams leads it across the road beyond the sea wall. The men scatter. When the shelling lifts, three of them do not return. Williams leads the seven survivors up a trail toward the fortified village of Les Moulins atop the bluff. He recognizes the ground and knows that he is taking on a tough target. Les Moulins is perched above a draw, up which winds a dirt road from the beach, designated on the invasion maps as Exit No. 3.
Williams and his crew of seven are the first Americans to approach it D Day morning. Machine-gun fire from a concrete pillbox sweeps over them as they near the brow of the hill, moving now at a crawl through thick grass. Williams says to the others: “Stay here; we’re too big a target!” They hug earth, and he crawls forward alone, moving via a shallow gully. Without being detected, he gets to within twenty yards of the gun, obliquely downslope from it. He heaves a grenade; but he has held it just a bit too long and it explodes in air, just outside the embrasure. His second grenade hits the concrete wall and bounces right back on him. Three of its slugs hit him in the shoulders. Then, from out of the pillbox, a German potato masher sails down on him and explodes just a few feet away; five more fragments cut into him. He starts crawling back to his men; en route, three bullets from the machine gun rip his rump and right leg.
The seven are still there. Williams hands his map and compass to Staff Sergeant Frank M. Price, saying: “It’s your job now. But go the other way—toward Vierville.” Price starts to look at Williams’ wounds, but Williams shakes him off, saying: “No, get moving.” He then settles himself in a hole in the embankment, stays there all day, and at last gets medical attention just before midnight.
On leaving Williams, Price’s first act is to hand map and compass (the symbols of leadership) to Technical Sergeant William Pearce, whose seniority the lieutenant has overlooked. They cross the draw, one man at a time, and some distance beyond come to a ravine; on the far side, they bump their first hedgerow, and as they look for an entrance, fire comes against them. Behind a second hedgerow, not more than thirty yards away, are seven Germans, five rides and two burp guns. On exactly even terms, these two forces engage for the better part of an hour, apparently with no one’s getting hit. Then Pearce settles the fight by crawling along a drainage ditch to the enemy flank. He kills the seven Germans with a Browning Automatic Rifle.
For Pearce and his friends, it is a first taste of battle; its success is giddying. Heads up, they walk along the road straight into Vierville, disregarding all precautions. They get away with it only because that village is already firmly in the hands of Lieutenant Walter Taylor of Baker Company and twenty men from his boat team.
Taylor is a luminous figure in the story of D Day, one of the forty-seven immortals of Omaha who, by their dauntless initiative at widely separated points along the beach, saved the landing from total stagnation and disaster. Courage and luck are his in extraordinary measure.
When Baker Company’s assault wave breaks up just short of the surf where Able Company is in ordeal, Taylor’s coxswain swings his boat sharp left, then heads toward the shore about halfway between Zappacosta’s boat and Williams’. Until a few seconds after the ramp drops, this bit of beach next to the village called Hamel-au-Prêtre is blessedly clear of fire. No mortar shells crown the start. Taylor leads his section crawling across the beach and over the sea wall, losing four men killed and two wounded (machine-gun fire) in this brief movement. Some yards off to his right, Taylor has seen Lieutenants Harold Donaldson and Emil Winkler shot dead. But there is no halt for reflection; Taylor leads the section by trail straight up the bluff and into Vierville, where his luck continues. In a two-hour fight he whips a German platoon without losing a man.
The village is quiet when Pearce joins him. Pearce says: “Williams is shot up back there and can’t move.”
Says Taylor: “I guess that makes me company commander.”
Answers Pearce: “This is probably all of Baker Company.” Pearce takes a head count; they number twenty-eight, including Taylor.
Says Taylor: “That ought to be enough. Follow me!”
Inland from Vierville about five hundred yards lies the Château de Vaumicel, imposing in its rock-walled massiveness, its hedgerow-bordered fields all entrenched and interconnected with artilleryproof tunnels. To every man but Taylor the target looks prohibitive. Still, they follow him. Fire stops them one hundred yards short of the château. The Germans are behind a hedgerow at mid-distance. Still feeling their way, Taylor’s men flatten, open fire with rifles, and toss a few grenades, though the distance seems too great. By sheer chance, one grenade glances off the helmet of a German squatting in a foxhole. He jumps up, shouting: “Kamerad! Kamerad!” Thereupon twenty-four of the enemy walk from behind the hedgerow with their hands in the air. Taylor pares off one of his riflemen to march the prisoners back to the beach. The brief fight costs him three wounded. Within the château, he takes two more prisoners, a German doctor and his first-aid man. Taylor puts them on a “kind of a parole,” leaving his three wounded in their keeping while moving his platoon to the first crossroads beyond the château.
Here he is stopped by the sudden arrival of three truckloads of German infantry, who deploy into the fields on both flanks of his position and start an envelopment. The manpower odds, about three to one against him, are too heavy. In the first trade of fire, lasting not more than two minutes, a rifleman lying beside Taylor is killed, three others are wounded, and the B.A.R. is shot from Pearce’s hands. That leaves but twenty men and no automatic weapons.
Taylor yells: “Back to the château!” They go out, crawling as far as the first hedgerow; then they rise and trot along, supporting their wounded. Taylor is the last man out, having stayed behind to cover the withdrawal with his carbine until the hedgerows interdict fire against the others. So far, this small group has had no contact with any other part of the expedition, and for all its members know, the invasion may have failed.
They make it to the château. The enemy comes on and moves in close. The attacking fire builds up. But the stone walls are fire-slotted, and through the midday and early afternoon these ports well serve the American riflemen. The question is whether the ammunition will outlast the Germans. It is answered at sundown, just as the supply runs out, by the arrival of fifteen Rangers who join their fire with Taylor’s, and the Germans fade back.
Already Taylor and his force are farther south than any element of the right flank in the Omaha expedition. But Taylor isn’t satisfied. The battalion objective, as specified for the close of D Day, is still more than one half mile to the westward. He says to the others: “We’ve got to make it.”
So he leads them forth, once again serving as first scout, eighteen of his own riflemen and fifteen Rangers following in column. One man is killed by a bullet getting away from Vaumicel. Dark closes over them. They prepare to bivouac. Having got almost to the village of Louvieres, they are by this time almost one half mile in front of anything else in the United States Army. There a runner reaches them with the message that the remnants of the battalion are assembling seven hundred yards closer to the sea; Taylor and party are directed to fall back on them. It is done.
Later, still under the spell, Price paid the perfect tribute to Taylor. He said: “We saw no sign of fear in him. Watching him made men of us. Marching or fighting, he was leading. We followed him because there was nothing else to do.”
Thousands of Americans were spilled onto Omaha Beach. The high ground was won by a handful of men like Taylor who on that day burned with a flame bright beyond common understanding.
Straight from Fox News: “He didn’t seek the spotlight, but when Frank Buckles outlived every other American who’d served in World War I, he became what his biographer called “the humble patriot” and final torchbearer for the memory of that fading conflict.
Buckles enlisted in World War I at 16 after lying about his age. He died Sunday on his farm in Charles Town, nearly a month after his 110th birthday. He had devoted the last years of his life to campaigning for greater recognition for his former comrades, prodding politicians to support a national memorial in Washington and working with friend and family spokesman David DeJonge on a biography.
“We were always asking ourselves: How can we represent this story to the world?” DeJonge said Monday. “How can we make sure World War I isn’t forgotten.”
Buckles asked his daughter, Susannah Flanagan, about progress toward a national memorial every week, sometimes daily.
“He was sad it’s not completed,” DeJonge said. “It’s a simple straightforward thing to do, to honor Americans.”
When asked in February 2008 how it felt to be the last survivor, Buckles said simply, “I realized that somebody had to be, and it was me.”
Only two known veterans remain, according to the Order of the First World War, a Florida group whose members are descendants of WWI veterans and include Buckles’ daughter. The survivors are Florence Green in Britain and Claude Choules in Australia, said Robert Carroon, the group’s senior vice commander. Choules, who served in Britain’s Royal Navy, was born in that country but now lives in Australia.
Green turned 110 on Feb. 19, and Choules turns 110 in March, he said.
Born in Missouri in 1901 and raised in Oklahoma, Buckles visited a string of military recruiters after the United States in April 1917 entered what was called “the war to end all wars.” He was repeatedly rejected before convincing an Army captain he was 18.
More than 4.7 million people joined the U.S. military from 1917-18. By 2007, only three survived. Buckles went to Washington that year to serve as grand marshal of the national Memorial Day parade.
Unlike Buckles, the other two survivors were still in basic training in the United States when the war ended, and they did not make it overseas. When they died in late 2007 and 2008, Buckles became the last so-called doughboy — and a soft-spoken celebrity.
He got fan mail almost every day, DeJonge said, and had enough birthday cards to fill several bushel baskets.
DeJonge had visited Buckles late last week and was driving back to Michigan with about 5,000 letters to organize and answer when he got the call telling him his friend had died.
“The letters are so heartfelt,” he said. “Each night, Susannah would go in and sit at Papa’s bedside and read them to Frank. That kept him going.”
Buckles had been battling colds and other minor ailments this winter, but he was not ill at the time of his death.
The day before he died was warm, DeJonge said, and he spent three hours sitting in the sunshine on the porch of his farmhouse, talking with his daughter.
She worked diligently to keep Buckles in his own home, even though it exhausted his life savings. DeJonge said home health nurses and other medical care cost about $120,000 a year.
Details for services and arrangements will be announced later this week, but the family is planning a burial in Arlington National Cemetery. In 2008, friends persuaded the federal government to make an exception to its rules for who can be interred there.
President Barack Obama ordered that the day Buckles is buried that all U.S. flags on official buildings be lowered to half-staff.
Buckles had already been eligible to have his cremated remains housed at the cemetery. Burial, however, normally requires meeting several criteria, including earning one of five medals, such as a Purple Heart.
Buckles never saw combat but once joked, “Didn’t I make every effort?”
U.S. Rep. Shelley Moore Capito and the rest of West Virginia’s congressional delegation were also working Monday on a plan to allow Buckles to lie in repose in the rotunda of the U.S. Capitol.
According to the Architect of the Capitol’s website, the last person to do so was President Gerald Ford.
The honor is reserved mostly for elected and military officials, but others have included civil rights activist Rosa Parks and unknown soldiers from both World Wars and the Korean War.
Sen. Jay Rockefeller called Buckles “a wonderfully plainspoken man and an icon for the World War I generation” and said he will continue fighting for the memorial Buckles wanted.
“He lived a long and rich life as a true American patriot,” said Sen. Joe Manchin, “and I hope that his family’s loss is lightened with the knowledge that he was loved and will be missed by so many.”
The family asked that donations be made to the National World War One Legacy Project. The project is managed by the nonprofit Survivor Quest and will educate students about Buckles and WWI through a documentary and traveling educational exhibition.
“We have lost a living link to an important era in our nation’s history,” said Secretary of Veterans Affairs Eric Shinseki. “But we have also lost a man of quiet dignity, who dedicated his final years to ensuring the sacrifices of his fellow ‘Doughboys’ are appropriately commemorated.”
In spring 2007, Buckles told The Associated Press of the trouble he went through to get into the military.
“I went to the state fair up in Wichita, Kansas, and while there, went to the recruiting station for the Marine Corps,” he said. “The nice Marine sergeant said I was too young when I gave my age as 18, said I had to be 21.”
Buckles returned a week later.
“I went back to the recruiting sergeant, and this time I was 21,” he said with a grin. “I passed the inspection … but he told me I just wasn’t heavy enough.”
Then he tried the Navy, whose recruiter told Buckles he was flat-footed.
Buckles wouldn’t quit. In Oklahoma City, an Army captain demanded a birth certificate.
“I told him birth certificates were not made in Missouri when I was born, that the record was in a family Bible. I said, ‘You don’t want me to bring the family Bible down, do you?’” Buckles said with a laugh. “He said, ‘OK, we’ll take you.’”
Buckles served in England and France, working mainly as a driver and a warehouse clerk. An eager student of culture and language, he used his off-duty hours to learn German, visit cathedrals, museums and tombs, and bicycle in the French countryside.
After Armistice Day, Buckles helped return prisoners of war to Germany. He returned to the United States in January 1920.
After the war, he returned to Oklahoma, then moved to Canada, where he worked a series of jobs before heading for New York City. There, he landed jobs in banking and advertising.
But it was the shipping industry that suited him best, and he worked around the world for the White Star Line Steamship Co. and W.R. Grace & Co.
In 1941, while on business in the Philippines, Buckles was captured by the Japanese. He spent more than three years in prison camps.
“I was never actually looking for adventure,” he once said. “It just came to me.”"
“Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?”
“No, but I served in a company of heroes.”
-Major Dick Winters.
Straight from Fox News: “Richard “Dick” Winters, the Easy Company commander whose World War II exploits were made famous by the book and television miniseries “Band of Brothers,” died last week in central Pennsylvania. He was 92.
Winters died following a several-year battle with Parkinson’s disease, longtime family friend William Jackson said Monday.
An intensely private and humble man, Winters had asked that news of his death be withheld until after his funeral, Jackson said. Winters lived in Hershey, Pa., but died in suburban Palmyra.
The men Winters led expressed their admiration for their company commander after learning of his death.
William Guarnere, 88, said what he remembers about Winters was “great leadership.”
“When he said ‘Let’s go,’ he was right in the front,” Guarnere, who was called “Wild Bill” by his comrades, said Sunday night from his South Philadelphia home. “He was never in the back. A leader personified.”
Another member of the unit living in Philadelphia, Edward Heffron, 87, said thinking about Winters brought a tear to his eye.
“He was one hell of a guy, one of the greatest soldiers I was ever under,” said Heffron, who had the nickname “Babe” in the company. “He was a wonderful officer, a wonderful leader. He had what you needed, guts and brains. He took care of his men, that’s very important.”
Winters was born Jan. 21, 1918 and studied economics at Franklin & Marshall College before enlisting, according to a biography on the Penn State website.
Winters became the leader of Company E, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne Division on D-Day, after the death of the company commander during the invasion of Normandy.
During that invasion, Winters led 13 of his men in destroying an enemy battery and obtained a detailed map of German defenses along Utah Beach. In September 1944, he led 20 men in a successful attack on a German force of 200 soldiers.
Occupying the Bastogne area of Belgium at the time of the Battle of the Bulge, he and his men held their place until the Third Army broke through enemy lines, and Winters shortly afterward was promoted to major.
After returning home, Winters married his wife, Ethel, in May 1948, and trained infantry and Army Ranger units at Fort Dix during the Korean War. He started a company selling livestock feed to farmers, and he and his family eventually settled in a farmhouse in Hershey, Pa., where he retired.
Historian Stephen Ambrose interviewed Winters for the 1992 book “Band of Brothers,” upon which the HBO miniseries that started airing in September 2001 was based. Winters himself published a memoir in 2006 entitled “Beyond Band of Brothers.”
Two years ago, an exhibit devoted to Winters was dedicated at the Hershey-Derry Township Historical Society. Winters, in frail health in later years, has also been the subject of a campaign to raise money to erect a monument in his honor near the beaches of Normandy.
Winters talked about his view of leadership for an August 2004 article in American History Magazine:
“If you can,” he wrote, “find that peace within yourself, that peace and quiet and confidence that you can pass on to others, so that they know that you are honest and you are fair and will help them, no matter what, when the chips are down.”
When people asked whether he was a hero, he echoed the words of his World War II buddy, Mike Ranney: “No, but I served in a company of heroes.”
“He was a good man, a very good man,” Guarnere said. “I would follow him to hell and back. So would the men from E Company.”
Arrangements for a public memorial service are pending.”
Straight from Fox News: “On Veteran’s day, Frank Buckles holds one distinction from the rest of the dough boys: he outlived them. He is the last known living World War I Veteran. As he approaches his 110th birthday, his daughter is facing the reality that he won’t be around much longer. When he goes, the nation will be without a survivor of the Great War.
His daughter, Susanhah Buckles-Flannigan, and representatives of the family are concerned that they have not heard enough in the way of concrete plans to recognize the important chapter in history that will close when Mr. Buckles time on Earth is over. Daughter Suzanna Buckles-Flanagan says he is only interested in drawing attention to a generation of Americans who gave their all in a war that many have forgotten. “He doesn’t want any recognition for himself,” says Buckles-Flanagan.
The family has heard many encouraging comments. The late Senator Robert Byrd and current Senator Richard Burr penned a letter advocating that Buckles remains “Lie in Honor” in the Capitol Rotunda. However, a spokesman for Senator Burr says no plans can be guaranteed while Buckles is still alive. A great many factors could contribute to whether he could lay in the Rotunda, including whether Congress is in session.
An Army spokesman tells Fox News Mr. Buckles has a guaranteed spot in Arlington National Cemetery. As an ambulance driver, he did not see much combat in WWI. He was not decorated for valor but exceptions are being made. Buckles will be buried with full military honors. Those honors will include a horse drawn caisson, a full escort platoon of soldiers, a firing line and a band.
Foreign dignitaries, particularly the French, have expressed interest in paying respects. If the outpouring of respect is anything like the British experienced when their last WWI survivor, Harry Patsch passed away, hundreds of thousands will show up. The Family of Mr. Buckles wants some guarantees that the logistics will be handled.
In response to our inquiry, A White House spokesman said, the Secretary of Defense is aware of the extraordinary life and circumstance of Mr. Buckles and is working on a recommendation.”
Straight from the New York Times: “Joseph G. Gavin Jr., who rode herd over the immensely complex design, construction and testing of the first vehicle to visit the moon — a task that included anticipating 400 different landing surfaces, from ice to boulders to dust to potholes — died on Saturday in Amherst, Mass. He was 90.
The cause was acute leukemia and pneumonia, his family said.
When President John F. Kennedy declared in 1961 that America would go to the moon by the end of the decade, the task seemed almost unbelievably daunting. But tens of thousands across America pitched in, and Mr. Gavin had one of the most important roles, as part of the Apollo 11 mission.
An M.I.T.-trained engineer who had worked on early jet aircraft engines during World War II, Mr. Gavin managed the 7,500-member team that made the Eagle, the clunky lunar module that settled on the lunar surface, in a spot called the Sea of Tranquillity, on July 20, 1969.
“Houston, Tranquillity Base here,” Neil A. Armstrong, the Apollo 11 commander, announced to mission control as half a billion people watched on television. “The Eagle has landed.”
As director of the lunar module program for the Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corporation, Mr. Gavin had to make sure that the craft — a combination two-stage rocket and two-man spacecraft weighing 32,000 pounds — would land gently on the moon’s surface, then take off again on its own power to rejoin a larger spacecraft in lunar orbit.
The odd, bulbous module with spindly legs was called the world’s first true spacecraft because it could operate only in outer space.
The margins for error were so tiny that Commander Armstrong had only 20 seconds of fuel left after changing landing sites because of rocks. Mr. Gavin was “literally” holding his breath, he recalled.
An even more tense moment followed. If the blastoff from the moon’s surface failed — a critical step that could not be simulated in terrestrial tests — Commander Armstrong and Col. Edwin E. (Buzz) Aldrin Jr., the lunar module pilot, would be stranded forever. (The third member of the mission, Lt. Col. Michael Collins, was orbiting the moon in the command module Columbia.)
Everything worked, a happy occurrence that would be repeated with modules in five more missions. In all, Grumman built a dozen.
A memorable feat performed by the module came in April 1970, when it acted as a lifeboat after an oxygen tank exploded aboard the Apollo 13 spacecraft. The mission’s three astronauts returned to earth inside the module. All the while, Mr. Gavin and others were at mission control in Houston helping to guide the men to safety. NASA awarded Mr. Gavin its distinguished public service medal for his role in the crisis.
Mr. Gavin would go on to be president, chief operating officer and chairman of the executive committee of the Grumman Corporation. The company merged into the Northrop Corporation in 1994, forming the Northrop Grumman Corporation.
In his 39-year career with the company, Mr. Gavin oversaw enterprises as diverse as city buses and wings for the space shuttle. But it was his shepherding of the lunar module’s development — considered by many to have been the most challenging aspect of the moon voyage — that elevated him to prominence.
Grumman had begun pondering the possibility of a lunar-landing project in 1960 and assigned Mr. Gavin to a group doing preliminary work on a module. When Grumman got the contract in 1962, he was put in charge of a team that included Tom Kelly, the chief design engineer.
It was a tricky task. The module had to be light, to reduce energy consumption and battery size. Because there is no air resistance on the moon, reverse acceleration was needed to stop forward progress. Everything had to be tested and tested again: some 14,000 imperfections were corrected over almost a decade. And because there could no testing in actual lunar conditions, an extensive array of backup systems had to be installed while still minimizing weight.
Preparations for the moon landing were inherently uncertain. Imagined possibilities included a layer of dust more than 30 feet thick, a slippery surface like ice, and potholes.
“So we developed a computer program, based on tests of a quarter-scale model of the lunar module, and we ran the program through some 400 different landing conditions,” Mr. Gavin said in an interview with Technology Review, published by M.I.T., in 1994.
From an original estimate of $350 million, the module’s cost rose to $1.5 billion.
“If a project is truly innovative, you cannot possibly know its exact cost and exact schedule at the beginning,” Mr. Gavin told Technology Review. “And if you do know the exact cost and the exact schedule, chances are that the technology is obsolete.”
Joseph Gleason Gavin Jr. was born on Sept. 18, 1920, in Somerville, Mass. As a boy, he was enthralled by the imaginary exploits of Buck Rogers and the real ones of Charles A. Lindbergh. He once traveled for hours to see “Lucky Lindy” land at a small airfield in Vermont.
He earned undergraduate and master’s degrees in aeronautical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he was captain of the varsity crew. During World War II, he was a lieutenant in the Navy involved in the early work on jet aircraft propulsion. He joined Grumman in 1946 as a design engineer working on Navy fighters.
After his retirement in 1985, Mr. Gavin advised the federal government on energy policy and space matters and pursued charitable interests.
Mr. Gavin is survived by his wife of 67 years, the former Dorothy Grace Dunklee; his sons, Joseph III and Donald; and four grandchildren. A daughter, Tay Anne Gavin Erickson, died in 1998.
In remarks to an M.I.T. alumni publication, Mr. Gavin, a downhill skier until the age of 86, described the appeal of his work: “There’s a certain exuberance that comes from being out there on the edge of technology, where things are not certain, where there is some risk, and where you make something work.””
Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller
United States Army
For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Staff Sergeant Robert J. Miller distinguished himself by extraordinary acts of heroism while serving as the Weapons Sergeant in Special Forces Operational Detachment Alpha 3312, Special Operations Task Force-33, Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force-Afghanistan during combat operations against an armed enemy in Konar Province, Afghanistan on January 25, 2008. While conducting a combat reconnaissance patrol through the Gowardesh Valley, Staff Sergeant Miller and his small element of U.S. and Afghan National Army soldiers engaged a force of 15 to 20 insurgents occupying prepared fighting positions. Staff Sergeant Miller initiated the assault by engaging the enemy positions with his vehicle’s turret-mounted Mark-19 40 millimeter automatic grenade launcher while simultaneously providing detailed descriptions of the enemy positions to his command, enabling effective, accurate close air support.
Following the engagement, Staff Sergeant Miller led a small squad forward to conduct a battle damage assessment. As the group neared the small, steep, narrow valley that the enemy had inhabited, a large, well-coordinated insurgent force initiated a near ambush, assaulting from elevated positions with ample cover. Exposed and with little available cover, the patrol was totally vulnerable to enemy rocket propelled grenades and automatic weapon fire. As point man, Staff Sergeant Miller was at the front of the patrol, cut off from supporting elements, and less than 20 meters from enemy forces. Nonetheless, with total disregard for his own safety, he called for his men to quickly move back to covered positions as he charged the enemy over exposed ground and under overwhelming enemy fire in order to provide protective fire for his team.
While maneuvering to engage the enemy, Staff Sergeant Miller was shot in his upper torso. Ignoring the wound, he continued to push the fight, moving to draw fire from over one hundred enemy fighters upon himself. He then again charged forward through an open area in order to allow his teammates to safely reach cover. After killing at least 10 insurgents, wounding dozens more, and repeatedly exposing himself to withering enemy fire while moving from position to position, Staff Sergeant Miller was mortally wounded by enemy fire. His extraordinary valor ultimately saved the lives of seven members of his own team and 15 Afghanistan National Army soldiers. Staff Sergeant Miller’s heroism and selflessness above and beyond the call of duty, and at the cost of his own life, are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself and the United States Army.
“Staff Sgt. Salvatore Giunta will be the first living person awarded the medal, the nation’s top military honor, since the Vietnam War. The medal is given for the highest valor in combat.”
Official Citation: “Then-Specialist Salvatore A. Giunta distinguished himself by acts of gallantry at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a rifle team leader with Company B, 2d Battalion (Airborne), 503d Infantry Regiment during combat operations against an armed enemy in the Korengal Valley, Afghanistan on October 25, 2007. When an insurgent force ambush split Specialist Giunta’s squad into two groups, he exposed himself to enemy fire to pull a comrade back to cover. Later, while engaging the enemy and attempting to link up with the rest of his squad, Specialist Giunta noticed two insurgents carrying away a fellow soldier. He immediately engaged the enemy, killing one and wounding the other, and provided medical aid to his wounded comrade while the rest of his squad caught up and provided security. His courage and leadership while under extreme enemy fire were integral to his platoon’s ability to defeat an enemy ambush and recover a fellow American paratrooper from enemy hands.”
Straight from Wikipedia: “In October 2007, Giunta’s eight-man squad was moving in bright moonlight along a wooded ridgeline in the Korangal Valley when at least a dozen Taliban fighters mounted an ambush that was coordinated from three sides at such close range that close air support could not be provided to Giunta’s unit. Sergeant Josh Brennan, who was walking point, suffered at least 6 gunshot wounds. Giunta, then a specialist, was the fourth soldier back and was shot in the chest but was saved by his ballistic vest. Another bullet destroyed a weapon slung over his back. Moving, firing and throwing hand grenades, Giunta advanced up the trail to assist Staff Sergeant Erick Gallardo and, later, Specialist Franklin Eckrode, whose M249 machine gun had jammed and who was badly wounded. Continuing up the trail, Giunta saw two Taliban fighters, one of whom was Mohammad Tali (considered a high-value target), dragging Brennan down the hillside and towards the forest. Giunta attacked the insurgents with his M4 carbine, killing Tali, and ran to Brennan to provide cover and comfort until relief arrived.
I ran through fire to see what was going on with him and maybe we could hide behind the same rock and shoot together … He was still conscious. He was breathing. He was asking for morphine. I said, “You’ll get out and tell your hero stories,” and he was like, “I will, I will.”
Brennan did not survive surgery. According to his father, Michael Brennan, “not only did [Giunta] save [my son] Josh … He really saved half of the platoon.”
On September 10, 2010, the White House announced that Giunta would receive the United States’ highest military decoration, the first awarded to a living recipient since the Vietnam War. He is the fourth recipient from the War in Afghanistan, after Navy Lieutenant Michael P. Murphy, Army Sergeant First Class Jared C. Monti, and Army Staff Sergeant Robert James Miller. Miller’s medal was announced only a day before news of Giunta’s award broke.”
“Mad Jack” Churchill is officially the most bad-assed person to have ever lived. While it’s clear that Superman wears Chuck Norris pajamas to bed, by the same token, Chuck Norris wears Jack Churchill pajamas to bed.
Excerpts from Wikipedia: “Lieutenant Colonel John Malcolm Thorpe Fleming “Jack” Churchill, DSO & Bar, MC & Bar (16 September 1906 – 8 March 1996), nicknamed “Fighting Jack Churchill” and “Mad Jack”, was an English soldier who fought throughout World War II armed with a longbow, arrows, and a claybeg. He once said “any officer who goes into action without his sword is improperly dressed.”
Churchill resumed his commission after Poland was invaded, volunteering for the Commandos after fighting at Dunkirk. Churchill was unsure what Commando Duty entailed, but he signed up because it sounded dangerous. In May 1940, Churchill and his unit, the Manchester Regiment, ambushed a German patrol near L’Epinette, France. Churchill gave the signal to attack by cutting down the enemy Feldwebel (sergeant) with his barbed arrows, becoming the only known British soldier to have felled an enemy with a longbow in the course of the war.
Churchill was second in command of No. 3 Commando in Operation Archery, a raid on the German garrison at Vågsøy, Norway on December 27, 1941. As the ramps fell on the first landing craft, Churchill leapt forward from his position playing The March of the Cameron Men on bagpipes, threw a grenade, and began running towards the bay. For his actions at Dunkirk and Vaasgo, Churchill received the Military Cross and Bar.
In July 1943, as commanding officer, he led 2 Commando from their landing site at Catania in Sicily with his trademark claybeg slung around his waist and a longbow and arrows around his neck and his bagpipes under his arm. This was again repeated at the landings at Salerno. Leading 2 Commando, Churchill was ordered to capture a German observation post outside of the town of La Molina controlling a pass leading down to the Salerno beach-head. He led the attack by 2 and 41 Commandos, infiltrating the town and capturing the post, taking 42 prisoners including a mortar squad. Churchill led the men and prisoners back down the pass with the wounded being carried on carts with huge wheels, pushed by German prisoners. He commented that to him it was “an image from the Napoleonic Wars.” He received the Distinguished Service Order for leading this action at Salerno.
In 1944, he led the Commandos in Yugoslavia, where they supported the efforts of Tito‘s partisans from the Adriatic island of Vis. In May, he was ordered to raid the German held island of Brač. He organised a motley army of 1,500 Partisans, 43 Commando and one troop from 40 Commando for the raid. The landing was unopposed, but on seeing the eyries from which they later encountered German fire, the Partisans decided to defer the attack until the following day. Churchill’s bagpipes signalled the remaining Commandos to battle. After being strafed by an RAF Spitfire, Churchill decided to withdraw for the night and to re-launch the attack the following morning. The following morning, one flanking attack was launched by 43 Commando with Churchill leading the elements from 40 Commando. The Partisans remained at the landing area. Only Churchill and six others managed to reach the objective. A mortar shell killed or wounded everyone but Churchill, who was playing “Will Ye No Come Back Again?” on his pipes as the Germans advanced. He was knocked unconscious by grenades and captured. He was later flown to Berlin for interrogation and then transferred to Sachsenhausen concentration camp.
As the Pacific War was still ongoing Churchill was sent to Burma, where the largest land battles against Japan were still raging, but by the time he reached India, Hiroshima and Nagasaki had been bombed, and the war abruptly ended. Churchill was said to be unhappy with the abrupt end of the war, saying: “If it wasn’t for those damn Yanks, we could have kept the war going another 10 years!”
Straight from Wired: “The Soviet Union was first to land a spacecraft on the moon, in 1959, but NASA’s Neil Armstrong becomes the first human to set foot on the lunar surface, realizing humanity’s age-old dream. And effectively winning the space race for the United States.
Armstrong and fellow astronaut Buzz Aldrin left the Apollo 11 command module (piloted by Michael Collins) in orbit and performed a landing in the lunar module Eagle. At 4:18 p.m. EDT, Armstrong announced to a watching and waiting world that “The Eagle has landed.”
Six-and-a-half hours later, he stepped onto the powdery surface with the words, “That’s one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind.” Aldrin soon followed Armstrong down the ladder to become the second man to stand on the moon.
The mission was by no means a slam dunk. There was real fear that once on the lunar surface the astronauts might end up marooned and beyond rescue. In fact, President Nixon had a condolence speech ready to go in the event things turned out badly.
Things went as planned, however, and Armstrong and Aldrin returned to the command module, leaving behind a plaque inscribed with the words: “Here men from the planet Earth first set foot upon the Moon, July 1969 AD. We came in peace for all mankind.”
Five more Apollo missions carried astronauts to the moon before the program ended in 1972. (There were to have been six, but Apollo 13’s mission ended in near disaster.) The last man to leave his footprint on the moon was Apollo 17 commander Eugene Cernan, on Dec. 14, 1972.”
Straight from Guyism: “A classy Chicago man was charged with disorderly conduct after a city employee found brown stains and a foul odor coming off the man’s mailed in parking ticket. Chicago, you just got served.
Alexander Bailey, a 22-year-old from the Chicagoland area, allegedly also wrote a note on the ticket that he had wiped himself with it, lest there be any doubt.
The city employee who found the crappy ticket informed police who then charged and locked up Bailey, who was later released after posting $500 bail.
The original ticket that Bailey allegedly wiped himself with was $15.
There comes a time in which you’ve gone too far to prove a point. Wiping your ass with the ticket, sure…you’re a cool rebel. But then writing a note onto the ticket to point out that you wiped your ass with the ticket? That’s just over the line, man. We get it, you think the city is a joke and want to illustrate that fact with your tender bung. And to think, I expected so much better of a man who’d rub a filthy parking ticket worth less than a night at the movies on his rectum.”
Straight from Fox News: “A U.S. Navy SEAL was cleared Thursday of charges he covered up the alleged beating of an Iraqi prisoner suspected of masterminding the grisly 2004 killings of four American security contractors.
The Blackwater guards’ burned bodies were dragged through the streets, and two were hanged from a bridge over the Euphrates river in the former insurgent hotbed of Fallujah, in what became a turning point in the Iraq war.
On Thursday, a six-man Navy jury found Petty Officer 1st Class Julio Huertas not guilty of dereliction of duty and impeding the investigation. The jury heard too many differences between the testimony of a sailor who claimed he witnessed the Sept. 1 assault at a U.S. base outside Fallujah and statements from a half-dozen others who denied his account.
Smiling and composed as he left the courthouse at the U.S. military’s Camp Victory on Baghdad’s western outskirts, Huertas said he felt vindicated.
“It’s a big weight off my shoulders,” said Huertas, 29, of Blue Island, Illinois. “Compared to all the physical activity we go through, this has been mentally more challenging.”
Huertas said he would rejoin the SEALs, the Navy’s elite special forces, as soon as possible. His was the first trial of three SEALs accused in the assault of Ahmed Hashim Abed and its alleged cover up.
The case has drawn fire from at least 20 members of Congress and other Americans who see it as coddling terrorists to overcompensate for the notorious Abu Ghraib prison scandal. Thursday’s verdict was met by anger and sad shrugs from Iraqis who said they no longer expect to see U.S. troops held accountable for atrocities or other abuses.
“They would release him even if he had killed an Iraqi and not just beaten him,” said Ahmed Abdul Aziz Khudaeir, teacher in Fallujah.Abed, who is a suspected terrorist, claimed in his testimony that he had nothing to do with the Blackwater attack At least two of the Blackwater guards were former SEALs, giving the sailors what prosecutor Navy Lt. Cmdr. Jason Grover called a motive for beating Abed.
In his closing argument, Grover pleaded with the jury to hold Huertas responsible as an example of “why we’re better than the terrorists.”
Huertas’ lawyers, however, cast strong doubt that Abed was ever beaten in the first place. Photographs of Abed’s face and body taken in the days immediately after the alleged attack show a visible cut inside his lip but no obvious signs of bruising or injuries anywhere else.
“There was no abuse,” Monica Lombardi, Huertas’ civilian attorney, told the jury. She said Abed could have bit his lip on purpose to cast blame on U.S. troops, calling it “classic terrorist training.”
Dressed in a bright yellow jumpsuit and with his hands bound in front of him, Abed testified he was knocked to the floor and stood up by a U.S. guard, only to fall again after being punched in the stomach. He said he bled heavily over his white dishdasha, the traditional long garment worn by some Arabs.
That at least partially matched the account given by Petty Officer 3rd Class Kevin DeMartino, who told the jury that he saw one of the accused SEALs, Petty Officer 2nd Class Matthew McCabe, punch Abed in the stomach. DeMartino also accused Huertas of trying to cover up the attack. He said neither Huertas and the third SEAL, Petty Officer 2nd Class Jonathan Keefe, of Yorktown, Va., did anything to stop it.
But DeMartino also admitted he initially lied when first asked about the bloodstain on Abed’s clothes, and his account of the details of the incident were disputed by the sworn testimony of at least four other witnesses.
Against the backdrop of the Abu Ghraib detainee abuse scandal and the 2007 Nisoor Square shootings of 17 civilians in Baghdad, allegedly by Blackwater guards, the SEALs verdict marks another blow to America’s image in Iraq.
“These trials are just propaganda for their justice and democracy,” sneered Abdul-Rahman Najim al-Mashhadani, head of the Iraqi human rights group Hammurabi.
Huertas did not take the stand to defend himself, but is expected to testify in Keefe’s trial, which begins Friday at the military base in Baghdad. Lombardi said Huertas is expected to offer few, if any, details of the case, and will testify that he was cleared of the same charge that Keefe also is accused of: dereliction of duty. Many of the same witnesses in Huertas’ trial also will testify in Keefe’s, although a new jury will be seated.
Only McCabe, of Perrysburg, Ohio, was charged with assaulting Abed, and his is the only trial to be held at the Virginia Naval base where the three SEALs are stationed. His trial is scheduled to begin May 3.”
Straight from Fox News: “A veteran of three wars who was awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor is now facing an unlikely enemy — his neighbors.
Col. Van T. Barfoot, 90, has raised the Stars and Stripes every day at sunrise and lowered them every day at sunset since he served in the U.S. Army. But on Tuesday he received a letter from the law firm that represents his homeowners’ association, ordering him to remove the flagpole from his Richmond, Va. yard by 5 p.m. on Friday or face “legal action.”
The homoeowners’ association at Sussex Square community told Barfoot that the freestanding, 21-foot flagpole that he put up in September violates the neighborhood’s aesthetic guidelines.
Barfoot had sought permission to install the pole shortly after he moved into the community — a complex of townhouses where the grounds are community property — last June. The board denied his request in July.
But Barfoot and his family say there is no provision in Sussex Square’s rules that forbids erecting flagpoles. And for Barfoot, that’s a cause worth fighting for.
“There’s never been a day in my life or a place I’ve lived in my life that you couldn’t fly the American flag,” Barfoot said in an interview with the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
In a statement released last night, the association sought to defend its position against a growing chorus of outrage.
“This is not about the American flag. This is about a flagpole,” reads the statement from the association, which insists that Barfoot directly violated its board’s July ruling.
“Col. Barfoot is free to display the American flag in conformity with the neighborhood rules and restrictions. We are hopeful that Col. Barfoot will comply.”
The statement reminded the public that many American flags hang from homes in the Sussex Square community, and that the board members object only to Barfoot’s freestanding flagpole.
But Barfoot says he has always flown the flag from a height: “Where I’ve been, fighting wars … military installations, parades, everything else, the flag is vertical. And I’ve done it that way since I was in the Army,” Barfoot told the paper.
Barfoot is one of the country’s last living World War II veterans who received the Medal of Honor. He also served in the Korean War and the Vietnam War and earned a Purple Heart. In WWII, Barfoot showed his mettle in Carano, Italy, where he single-handedly destroyed a set of German machine gun nests, killed eight enemy soldiers, took 17 prisoners and stared down a tank before destroying it and killing its crew — all in a single day. Exhausted by his herculean efforts, he still managed to move two of his wounded men 1,700 yards to safety.
“Sgt. Barfoot’s extraordinary heroism, demonstration of magnificent valor, and aggressive determination in the face of pointblank fire are a perpetual inspiration to his fellow soldiers,” reads the official citation for his Medal of Honor.
Barfoot’s resolve is now once again being tested.
“I’ve flown the flag at my home as long as I can remember,” said Barfoot, who lived in rural Amelia County before moving to suburban Richmond. “This is the first time in the last 36 years that I’ve been unable to put my flag up on the same pole, the same staff and take it down when it’s time to come down.
“I don’t have any qualms with [the board's] authority, but the thing about it is that I cannot get enough conversation out of them where we can try to work out a solution,” Barfoot said.
Neighbors largely have expressed their support, but he realizes that ultimately it’s up to the nine-member association board whether to grant an exception to the rules.
“Emotional torture is what they’ve done to my father,” said his daughter, Margaret Nicholls. “He has lost sleep, he worries about it constantly. He just doesn’t understand. He thinks that if it’s on his property they can’t tell him what to do.”
***Update: “A 90-year-old Medal of Honor recipient can keep his 21-foot flagpole in his front yard after a homeowner’s association dropped its request to remove it, a spokesman for Democratic Virginia Sen. Mark Warner said Tuesday.
The Sussex Square homeowners’ association likewise has agreed to drop threats to take legal action against retired Army Col. Van T. Barfoot, Warner spokesman Kevin Hall said.
The association had threatened to take Barfoot to court if he failed to remove the pole from his suburban Richmond home by Friday. It had said the pole violated the neighborhood’s aesthetic guidelines.”
Official Citation: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty:
Staff Sergeant Jared C. Monti distinguished himself by acts of gallantry and intrepidity above and beyond the call of duty while serving as a team leader with Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3d Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3d Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, in connection with combat operations against an armed enemy in Nuristan Province, Afghanistan, on June 21, 2006.
While Staff Sergeant Monti was leading a mission aimed at gathering intelligence and directing fire against the enemy, his 16-man patrol was attacked by as many as 50 enemy fighters. On the verge of being overrun, Staff Sergeant Monti quickly directed his men to set up a defensive position behind a rock formation. He then called for indirect fire support, accurately targeting the rounds upon the enemy who had closed to within 50 meters of his position. While still directing fire, Staff Sergeant Monti personally engaged the enemy with his rifle and a grenade, successfully disrupting an attempt to flank his patrol. Staff Sergeant Monti then realized that one of his Soldiers was lying wounded in the open ground between the advancing enemy and the patrol’s position.
With complete disregard for his own safety, Staff Sergeant Monti twice attempted to move from behind the cover of the rocks into the face of relentless enemy fire to rescue his fallen comrade. Determined not to leave his Soldier, Staff Sergeant Monti made a third attempt to cross open terrain through intense enemy fire. On this final attempt, he was mortally wounded, sacrificing his own life in an effort to save his fellow Soldier.
Staff Sergeant Monti’s selfless acts of heroism inspired his patrol to fight off the larger enemy force. Staff Sergeant Monti’s immeasurable courage and uncommon valor are in keeping with the highest traditions of military service and reflect great credit upon himself, Headquarters and Headquarters Troop, 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment, 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, and the United States Army.”
Straight from Fox News: “President Obama awarded the military’s highest honor to a soldier who died trying to save his wounded comrade in Afghanistan — saying Sgt. First Class Jared C. Monti personified the values of honor and heroism.
Obama presented the prestigious Medal of Honor award to Monti’s parents during a ceremony in the East Room of the White House.
Monti of Raynham, Mass., died in Afghanistan on June 21, 2006, while trying to save a young private who was wounded. Obama said the fallen soldier “did something no amount of training can instill.”
In an interview with FOXNews.com Thursday, Monti’s mother, Janet, said the award is a “tremendous honor,” but she called the ceremony “bittersweet.”
“We’re very proud of him, but we’re also very sad,” she said.
Monti’s platoon — part of the 3rd Squadron, 71st Cavalry Regiment — was on an intelligence-gathering patrol when it was ambushed by more than 60 insurgents in Afghanistan’s Nuristan province. After calling in artillery support and directing his men’s return fire, Monti braved withering enemy fire to try to pull the comrade to safety from an exposed position. Monti, who was 31, was mortally wounded on the third attempt.
Janet Monti described her son’s innate selflessness and desire to help others, saying he “would always stick up for the underdog.” She recounted a story in which her son rescued a group of children who were being taunted by Albanian youths while he was stationed in Kosovo.
“He picked the children up in his Humvee and drove them to school,” she said. “He had so much compassion.”
Embattled U.S. troops in northeastern Afghanistan also paid homage to Monti Thursday by officially rededicating their isolated outpost in the Hindu Kush Mountains in his name.
Thursday’s ceremony in Afghanistan, at Combat Operations Post Monti in Kunar province, was attended by about 50 soldiers not on duty. It was preceded by artillery fire on nearby mountain ridges to ward off Taliban gunmen who mortar and rocket the post.
“Most of us didn’t know him personally and most of us will know him only by his citation,” Maj. Pete Granger, executive officer of the 1st Battalion, 32nd Infantry Regiment, said before a large plaque was unveiled in Monti’s honor.
“We honor his memory by continuing to fight for the same things he believed in: his soldiers, his family, his friends and his country.”
Nuristan Province, like Kunar province, earned a reputation as the “cradle of Jihad” in the 1980s’ mujahideen war against Soviet occupation forces. And the reputation sticks. Taliban insurgents use the rugged regions close to the Pakistani border as transit areas to and from central Afghanistan.
“He was a real hard-nosed NCO (non-commissioned officer),” Staff Sgt. Matthew Wolfanger, who was a member of Monti’s unit, told FOXNews.com. “He really demanded a lot out of his guys … but in the end we loved him for it because he took us from soldiers who were kinda just going through the motions doing our jobs to guys who were passionate about what we were doing.
“He brought the best out of us. We wanted to be the best because of him. He absolutely loved what he did, and he loved us, his soldiers.”
Wolfanger, 25, the keynote speaker at Thursday’s Afghanistan ceremony, said he wasn’t tasked to go on Monti’s fatal mission, but he and others listened in on the radio traffic.
“I knew it was bad from what they were saying, but it didn’t really go through my mind that my friends were out there and could actually be hurt. But at the end of it, when they said they had wounded and a KIA (killed in action) … you know … and they gave the roster numbers (of casualties) ….”
Wolfanger never finished the sentence.
The Medal of Honor, he said in prepared remarks, is “final confirmation of something that he had been to his soldiers all along, a hero.””
Straight from the NY Daily News: “A shotgun-wielding owner of a Harlem restaurant-supply company blasted two robbers to death and wounded two others on Thursday when he caught them pistol-whipping his employee, police said.
Turning the tables on the brutish bandits, 72-year-old Charles (Gus) Augusto opened fire with a 12-gauge shotgun he kept handy for such occasions, cops and witnesses said.
“He’s been robbed before, so I’m not totally amazed,” said Stefany Blyn, who rents a space above the store from Augusto.
“They ran into some tough stuff today,” witness Vernon McKenzie, 48, said of the stickup men, including one whose bloody corpse was splayed on the sidewalk in front of Augusto’s store on W. 125th St. near Amsterdam Ave.
The robbers stormed into the business, Kaplan Brothers Blue Flame, just after 3 p.m. demanding cash.
“He did a large cash business,” a police source said. “They were probably watching the place and made a move after a sell.”
Neighbors said Augusto, who was not charged last night, had sold a stove earlier in the day.
The stickup crew – three 21-year-olds and a 29-year-old – came prepared with a pistol and plastic handcuffs. They tried to tie up two of Augusto’s employees – a 35-year-old man and his 47-year-old female co-worker, said Deputy Police Commissioner Paul Browne.
“The male employee started to struggle, and then, as he did that, the perp with the gun struck him once in the head,” Browne said.
“… That’s when the owner opened fire with the shotgun.”
As the bandits bolted from the store, Augusto squeezed off three blasts from the pistol-grip shotgun from 20 to 30 feet away from the pistol-whipped employee.
He was deadly accurate. The four bandits – who were all from Manhattan – were hit.
Two of the robbers were struck in the back. One, identified as James Morgan, dropped dead inside the store among the sparkling gas stoves, a pistol near his body.
The other – Raylin Footmon, a nephew of a cop in the NYPD‘s 25th Precinct – made it across the street before collapsing on the sidewalk, police and witnesses said. He was later pronounced dead at St. Luke’s Hospital.
The furious employee who had been pistol-whipped ran out of the store and leaned over the mortally wounded Footmon, cursing at him, witnesses said.
The worker went back into the store and dragged Morgan’s body onto the sidewalk, yelling at him and kicking him, witnesses said.
“He stood over the body cursing him and shaking him, even though he was dead,” said Matthew Viane, 38, who lives in the neighborhood. “He was screaming at him and stomping him. “He [the employee] said, ‘You were going to kill me? Now you’re dead!’”
Viane said he overheard the 35-year-old employee – whom cops took away from the scene in handcuffs, but later released – thanking Augusto.
“Gus, you saved my life. You saved my life,” Viane quoted the worker as saying.
A man who worked at Blue Flame a couple of years ago unloading trucks said Augusto was just sticking up for himself.
“He’s a respectable businessman. … He wouldn’t hurt a fly. He found a deer by his house and nursed him back to health. He loves animals,” said the man, who declined to give his name.
Cops followed a bloody trail to Amsterdam Ave., where they found the third suspect, Bernard Whitherspoon. He was in police custody last night at St. Luke’s where he was being treated for his wounds. He was in stable condition.
The remaining robbery suspect, Shamel McCloud, was nabbed at 128th St. and St. Nicholas Terrace after being identified by a witness. He was also in stable condition at St. Luke’s last night.
Augusto told cops he bought his shotgun after a robbery nearly 30 years ago. Browne said it was unclear Thursday night if Augusto has a license for the weapon.
“He’s being treated as a witness and the victim of an attempted robbery,” Browne said of Augusto. “He has not been arrested or charged.”
A police source said that if Augusto is hit with a charge, it will be a minor one. “It doesn’t look too bad for him,” the source said.”
Straight from MSNBC: “In a solemn ceremony punctuated by talk of courage, service and sacrifice, the mother of a Marine corporal on Saturday christened a warship honoring her son, who died after covering an exploding grenade to protect his comrades in Iraq.
After composing herself and taking a deep breath, Deb Dunham smashed a bottle of champagne over the bow of the 510-foot warship Jason Dunham, then held the bottle aloft to the cheers of hundreds.
She was joined by the Marines who served with her son, by her husband, Dan Dunham, and their daughter Katelyn Dunham.”
Corporal Dunham’s Medal of Honor citation: “For conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his life above and beyond the call of duty while serving as Rifle Squad Leader, 4th Platoon, Company K, Third Battalion, Seventh Marines (Reinforced), Regimental Combat Team 7, First Marine Division (Reinforced), on 14 April 2004. Corporal Dunham’s squad was conducting a reconnaissance mission in the town of Karabilah, Iraq, when they heard rocket-propelled grenade and small arms fire erupt approximately two kilometers to the west. Corporal Dunham led his Combined Anti-Armor Team towards the engagement to provide fire support to their Battalion Commander’s convoy, which had been ambushed as it was traveling to Camp Husaybah. As Corporal Dunham and his Marines advanced, they quickly began to receive enemy fire. Corporal Dunham ordered his squad to dismount their vehicles and led one of his fire teams on foot several blocks south of the ambushed convoy. Discovering seven Iraqi vehicles in a column attempting to depart, Corporal Dunham and his team stopped the vehicles to search them for weapons. As they approached the vehicles, an insurgent leaped out and attacked Corporal Dunham. Corporal Dunham wrestled the insurgent to the ground and in the ensuing struggle saw the insurgent release a grenade. Corporal Dunham immediately alerted his fellow Marines to the threat. Aware of the imminent danger and without hesitation, Corporal Dunham covered the grenade with his helmet and body, bearing the brunt of the explosion and shielding his Marines from the blast. In an ultimate and selfless act of bravery in which he was mortally wounded, he saved the lives of at least two fellow Marines. By his undaunted courage, intrepid fighting spirit, and unwavering devotion to duty, Corporal Dunham gallantly gave his life for his country, thereby reflecting great credit upon himself and upholding the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service”"
Straight from Fox News: “Patrick Best, after serving with the Army for two tours in Iraq, brought home an American flag that once flew over his base near Mosul, but he wasn’t sure what to do with it — until he heard about Ed Jordan.
Jordan, who served in the Marines in the 1950s, had displayed an American flag in front of his Dallas home until Monday, when it was torched by vandals, according to local media reports. When Best heard about the vandalism, he knew his flag should go to Jordan.
“It needed a home, and he had a home that needed a flag. So it was just very simple to connect the two together,” Best told WFAA.
Jordan said he’d been planning on getting a replacement but didn’t expect one like this.
“It has that much more meaning to know that somebody you’ve been praying for, this flag was flying over them,” Jordan told WFAA.
Best’s new mission is to spend time in Coppell, Texas, with his family, the station reported — and Jordan’s new mission is to find a bigger flag pole.”
Straight from Fox News: “Frank Larison is a disabled veteran with more than 14 years of service, including more than a year of combat duty in Vietnam.
The 58-year-old former Marine now finds himself under attack by his Dallas homeowners association for displaying seven decals on his vehicle supporting the Marine Corps.
“To me, it’s being patriotic, and it shows that I served,” the veteran told FOX 4.
The board says the decals are advertisements that violate HOA rules, and must be covered or removed.
Otherwise, the homeowners association for The Woodlands II on The Creek — where Larimore has lived for eight years — says in a letter it will tow the car at Larimore’s expense. The board also threatens to fine him $50 for any future incident.
Larimore says the decals, ranging from the Marine emblem to Semper Fi slogans, aren’t advertisements for anything. “You can’t buy freedom,” he reasoned.
Some neighbors are outraged.
“That is his identity,” said neighbor Mary Castagna. “He goes to a lot of the veteran meetings, and it means a lot to him. Everyone else agrees with it; it doesn’t bother anybody.”
“He’s in the Marines, and he’s proud of it, and I don’t blame him,” said neighbor Paul Hardy. “If I’d gone through what he’s gone through, I’d be kind of proud of it myself.”
The letter from the board states you can’t have any form of advertisement anywhere on your car on your property. FOX 4 cameras spotted bumper stickers for political parties, health causes, and other non-commercial interests on the property as well.
One board member said he was unaware the HOA presidents sent the letter and did not know of any issue with Larimore’s vehicle.
“I will be looking into it,” said board member Art Bradford. “I didn’t know anything about this. I haven’t seen this.”
The board president was out of town and unavailable. The condo management company did not want to comment.”
Straight from Fox News: “Recalling the “unimaginable hell” of D-Day suffering, President Obama paid tribute Saturday to the against-all-odds Allied landings that broke Nazi Germany’s grip on France and turned the tide of history.
“The sheer improbability of this victory is part of what makes D-Day so memorable,” Obama said.
He spoke under a sunny sky at the American Cemetery on cliffs overlooking Omaha Beach and other landings sites where American, British and Canadian soldiers established a beachhead 65 years ago under the withering fire of Nazi troops awaiting the Allies’ cross-channel gamble.
Obama visited an American battlefield museum with his wife, Michelle; laid a wreath in honor of the fallen; greeted U.S. military members; and mingled with uniformed World War II veterans.
Normandy’s cliffs, still pocked with gun emplacements and other remnants of the war, including the white headstones of thousands of buried American troops, provided sure footing for a new U.S. commander in chief.
Obama noted that the site has been visited by many U.S. presidents and predicted that “Long after our time on this Earth has passed, one word will still bring forth the pride and awe of men and women who will never meet the heroes who sit before us: D-Day.”
He said the lessons of that pivotal effort are eternal.
“Friends and veterans, what we cannot forget — what we must not forget — is that D-Day was a time and a place where the bravery and selflessness of a few was able to change the course of an entire century,” he said.
Speaking at a time when he is directing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan — both of which have lasted longer than the U.S. involvement in World War II — Obama described in stark terms the harsh conditions the Allied invaders faced at Normandy. He noted that in many ways the seaborne invasion plan went awry, leaving the assaulting forces vulnerable to Nazi guns in their path.
“When the ships landed here at Omaha, an unimaginable hell rained down on the men inside,” he said. “Many never made it out of the boats.”
But the Allies prevailed, gathering strength for a breakout from Normandy in July that opened a path toward Paris and eventually took the Allies all the way to Germany and victory over the Nazis. Obama paid tribute to the Allies — the British, the Canadian, the French as well as the Russians, “who sustained some of the war’s heaviest casualties on the Eastern front.”
“At an hour of maximum danger, amid the bleakest of circumstances, men who thought themselves ordinary found it within themselves to do the extraordinary,” Obama said. “They fought out of a simple sense of duty — a duty sustained by the same ideals for which their countrymen had fought and bled for over two centuries.”
Earlier, French President Nicolas Sarkozy, Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper and British Prime Minister Gordon Brown each recalled the sacrifices of the Allies.
Obama noted that his grandfather, Stanley Dunham, arrived at Normandy six weeks after D-Day and marched across France in Lt. Gen. George S. Patton’s army. Attending with Obama was his great uncle, Charles Payne, who was part of the first American division to reach and liberate a Nazi concentration camp that Obama and his great uncle visited in Germany on Friday.
Obama saluted the contributions of individual veterans of the Normandy landings, including one veteran, Jim Norene, who fought as a member of the 101st Airborne Division.
“Last night, after visiting this cemetery for one last time, he passed away in his sleep,” the president said. “Jim was gravely ill when he left his home, and he knew that he might not return. But just as he did 65 years ago, he came anyway. May he now rest in peace with the boys he once bled with, and may his family always find solace in the heroism he showed here.”"