Monday, May 26, 2014

70th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings

First of all I want to wish all of our American friends all the best on this Memorial Day.
Next week will mark the 70th anniversary of D-Day.  It will also be 10 years ago that Clancy last visited the battlefields in France.  To mark that I will be at Ste-Mère-Eglise to promote Clancy's book Silver Eagle.  It is also the town Clancy helped liberate back in June 1944.  This book signing I will be doing will probably be the last one of the English version.  Later this year I will be promoting the Dutch version in Belgium and in the Netherlands.
Here is an excerpt from Clancy's book about his 2004 trip to Normandy: 
"Back in 2004, I went to Normandy again for the sixtieth Anniversary of the D-Day landings for a week, and that was all paid for. Peter van de Wal took me and we stayed with some friends there in Carentan, the Lenoël family. They lived in the bakery there, close to the place where I got wounded during the battle of Carentan sixty years earlier. I received a commemoration medal from the Mayor of Carentan. He also invited me to walk in the parade. He saw me standing in the crowd while he and the parade were passing by. So he came over to me and asked me to join in, so I did."

"When we went to Sainte-Mère-Eglise we couldn't get into the town with our rental car. So we had to walk the whole distance, you know. I wasn't too keen about that so we hitched a ride with some re-enactors over there. Military vehicles and such were the only cars which were allowed access to the town-centre. On that jeep it said 101 AB so it was perfect! I stopped them, got into their jeep and away we went! Those re-enactment guys were from Italy and it was fun riding with them the rest of the day."

"I hooked up with some of my Easy Company buddies over there as well. Shifty Powers was there and we caught up for a bit. Earl McClung was there too, as was Paul Rogers and Buck Taylor. All guys from 3rd Platoon. I also talked with Jack Agnew. He was part of the famous Filthy Thirteen group. It was such a very nice and sunny day. And the people where very friendly, asking questions, taking pictures, asking autographs and such, you know. I also saw my buddy Forrest Guth and his wife Harriet. Forrest was doing some promotional work for his new book which had just been released."

"Later on we drove to Château de L’Isle-Marie in Picauville, together with those Italian re-enactors. And there were about ten other veterans there too. And they honoured all of us over there. Colonel Robert Piper was there too. He was a platoon leader of G-Company 508th. We also visited the US military cemetery near Omaha Beach. It is so beautiful. There are many cemeteries over there: like the one in Hamm near Luxembourg, the one in Margraten in Holland and Henri-Chapelle in Belgium. A few years later I got hold of my buddy Ronald Ooms and asked him to look up William Dukeman for me. So he went over there to his grave in Margraten, which was very beautiful, took a picture and sent it to me."

So my friends, come and say hello at the Musée Airborne in the town center.  I will be there from 10 AM till 1 PM.  Then we will stroll around in the neigbourhood I guess.
Later that day we will be at the Dead Man's Corner museum in Saint-Côme-du-Mont.  At 6 PM the
inauguration of the Airborne Memorial Wall will commence.  Due to many donations from friends around the world we were able to put the following names on the wall:  Clancy Lyall, Mike Ranney, Mike Massaconi and Ed Shames.  Back in the day, I believe in 2006, I already donated to have Ron Speirs name on it aswell.  First it was called the Airborne Memorial Path but they changed it to a wall.  The reason behind it, I don't know.  But I have to say I look forward to it.  To the whole trip and seeing some friends over there and meeting new ones... It's gonna be a blast!
To end this short piece of the blog and also this Memorial Day I will end this with Clancy's words ( also a bit from his book):

"As a final note I want you all to understand that we were no heroes. I just can't say it enough. There is no such thing as a living hero. We were very good soldiers and worked well together because we did our job. And we never let our buddies down. But heroes? No we are not. We are the survivors. The real heroes are the ones who are still there, the guys who didn't come home ... "

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