June, and don’t forget- June is Dairy month so eat ice cream. June, remember last year I told you that the 25th is Leon Day, Noel spelled backwards means just 6 months until Christmas. June, school’s out for summer and for some-college graduation day…Now for a lifetime of work and trying to make a living. Boy, I’m optimistic. I often ask people what they have been doing. “Oh, just working,” they reply.
Jokingly I’ll then tell them, “I thought I told you there is no way you will ever get ahead by working.” But sadly, there is some truth to that. And lastly June is one of the two months that I ask you to financially support the Chimney Rock Chronicle so the publication can continue to be printed. Any amount, no donation too small or too large.
Now for my June focus story. It was about two in the morning where he stood, which was nine pm eastern standard time and cool for June around 50 degrees. A young man stood outside near the kitchen porch. He was looking up at the mostly cloudy sky while he was on guard duty and was making his rounds on the base. The cook came out on the porch, and as he looked up, he said, “They sure are giving it to them tonight!”
“They sure are,” the other replied. There was an almost constant roar and when the clouds would lighten up you could see the silhouette of planes against a darkened moon. This takes place in England. At the time these two young boys didn’t realize they were experiencing history by seeing a portion of the over 13,000 planes that flew over the English Channel that night and 1200 C-47’s taking over 13,000 young boys of the 82nd and 101st airborne divisions to an inland area of France called Normandy. Nearly four thousand miles away these young men’s families didn’t know just how much danger these boys were to meet on that night.
At the same time over five thousand ships loaded with supplies and 160,000 boys headed for the five beaches of Normandy which were Sword, Juno, Omaha, Gold, and Utah. None of these boys would know which ones would be alive the next day. The only certain thing was some would not be.
For those like me that have never experienced that feeling, we could only imagine what stress and anxiety they would be under. To jump from a plane in total darkness, and the only light would come from the explosions of anti-aircraft fire and tracer bullets whizzing by their heads. When the platform fell on the landing craft and your buddy that you knew well in front of you fell dead, and you had to push and jump over his body to storm the beach and run directly toward the machine gun fire that took your friend’s life. Could you imagine?
As it turned out, that young guard was a Military Policeman and three days later, he also stepped out onto the sands of Omaha Beach, but not under the deadly machine gun fire as the soldiers before him. His job was to direct and escort military vehicle convoys, and to guard the commanding officers. On one occasion he was guarding General Patton and didn’t even know it until Patton came out to go to the outdoor latrine, what we know as an outdoor toilet. As you may have guessed, that guard was my daddy, and as he watched those planes that night, he knew that something big was happening. He said sometime later that morning the cook came out and told him that, “It’s the invasion, the invasion!”
He heard some officers talking, a “beach head was established on Utah, but on Omaha the boys were catching He*l”, and no word or sign of movement.”
When I was with my dad he would tell of his experiences in the army. But it was on one certain day I can remember clearly. A look came over his face and his voice changed, and out of the blue he said, “Forty-six years ago. Forty-six years. It’s hard to believe. Just young snotnose kids fighting and dying on those beaches.” Until that moment I didn’t realize it that day was June 6th. From that day forward, I have tried very hard to always remind some of the people that I come in contact with on that day of what freedom costs and the total sacrifices some made on that day.
On June 6th, 1944, more than 160,000 allied soldiers, landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy. Nearly 10,000 allied soldiers were killed or wounded on that one day. The families of American boys alone lost over 400,000 killed and over 600,000 wounded, in World War II fighting for freedom. One man some may remember, or at least you have heard of was Bennie Carr, owner of Bennie’s Beach. He was wounded on Omaha Beach on D-Day and lost his leg from the injury. This is one of the many reasons that it so angers me when I see athletes, or individuals that disrespect the American flag and our National Anthem. Think, just think, what the world would be today without the sacrifice of those young men. Winston Churchill once said that “never has so many, owed so much to so few”. And in a cemetery of World War II soldiers in England a sign hangs at the entrance, the men beyond this gate gave their todays so we may have our tomorrows.
In May I never mentioned Memorial Day, for I was planning on this story, so it is at this time that I would ask that you would please pause and remember all those, in every war or conflict, that gave their todays so we may have our tomorrows.
Believe it or not
Until next time.