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70th Anniversary of the D-Day landings - June 6th 1944

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This date burns in my memory every year. I think of all those young men, mostly in their late teens or early twenties and almost certainly scared to death, who embarked on the invasion of Normandy on the 5/6th June 1944, to commence the long process of liberating Europe and never came back, or were maimed for life. Plus of course the thousands of families that were devastated by their tragic losses.

 

Looking  at those thousands of white headstones, immaculately lined up in the many military cemeteries throughout Normandy always brings tears to my eyes. Those young boys had no life at all before it was so violently snuffed out. We can only be eternally grateful to every single one of them for having to make this ultimate sacrifice in the name of freedom.

 

Most ex-soldiers will tell you that it is not their Country, Flag, cause,  President, King or Queen or even the Regiment they fight for - it is their buddies.

 

God bless them all and may they rest in eternal peace.

 

http://warchronicle.com/numbers/WWII/ddaycasualtyest.htm

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Watched quite a lot of the celebrations today from the various beaches.

 

We owe them a lot and it is quite emotional to see those old guys sitting there who actually did it. Apparently, this is the last time some of the veterans organizations will be attending any celebration or commemoration due to the frailty of the guys who are left.

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It's also National Donut Day, which happens to fall on the first friday of june, and coincide with D-Day this year.

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70 years later, D-Day vet Jim 'Pee Wee' Martin jumps agian

 

 

Jim "Pee Wee" Martin acted like he'd been here before, like jumping from a plane is as easy as falling off a log.

 

His jump Thursday in the same area was different and -- despite his being 93 years old now -- a whole lot easier.

 

Link

 

I have to say that takes some stones !!

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70 years later, D-Day vet Jim 'Pee Wee' Martin jumps agian

 

 

Link

 

I have to say that takes some stones !!

Great story. I love to see these old veterans do that kind of thing. They do not jump solo, they do a tandem jump strapped to an instructor. I have done my share of jumping, but finished at 50 years old. No interest now, just OUCH memories of painful bruises. Going over Niagara Falls in a bathtub or things like that at 93, is not my current idea of a game of soldiers.

 

Have seen the same old guys do a memory jump at Arnhem on that Anniversary in September.

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My father served in the U.S. Army in World War II, and he really didn't talk much about the war until very late in his life. Two stories stand out in my mind.

 

The first occurred on the very first day, when he enlisted. He had taken the train into New York and went to the Whitehall Armory in Brooklyn. After the physical exam and mental evaluation, everyone was given an interview. My father was asked by a Staff Sergeant "What do you think you would be good at in the Army?". My father replied "I'd like to be a door gunner in a B-17". The Sergeant looked at my father for a moment, then looked down and stared at his paperwork. At that time, only men between the ages of 18 and 29 were being drafted. My father was 31 at the time, so he knew from reading the paperwork that my father had enlisted voluntarily. He then looked up and said "So, you want to shoot at airplanes, do you?", and began writing at the bottom of the page. Then he handed the paperwork back to my father and told him to report to another room. My father read the paperwork and realized he was being assigned to a ground based anti-aircraft unit. In light of the heavy losses suffered by the Eighth Air Force bomber groups in late 1942 and early 1943, that Sergeant probably saved my father's life that day.  

 

The second occurred very late in the war, after the Battle of the Bulge. Since the German Luftwaffe had been all but obliterated by that time, and the front was advancing so rapidly into Germany, rear echelon groups like my father's anti-aircraft unit were given a new task. The front line units would "leap frog" from one large town to the next and leave job of searching and clearing the smaller towns in between to units like my father's. In the spring of 1945, they entered one small town that had a large warehouse on the outskirts. My father's company was ordered to search the warehouse. Inside they found over 800 large crates and opened one to see what was inside. It was a machine of some sort that no one recognized. The officers in charge ordered the unit to guard the warehouse and let no one in. The next day, a Colonel arrived early in the morning, and about an hour later a large convoy of trucks pulled up. All of the crates were loaded into the trucks and taken away. Everyone in my father's unit was told not to talk about anything they had seen. Years later, my father came to realize what they had found that day: more than 800 jet engines, enough to power 400 or more Me-262 jet fighters. The Germans had the engines but no planes to put them in. Imagine if they had.

 

Here's a link to the website for my father's unit, if anyone is interested: http://www.skylighters.org/mainmenu.html

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I think there are a few of us on this forum who's fathers actually fought during World War II.

 

My father fought with Montgomery against Rommels forces in the desert campaigns and that's about all I know of it. The only story we could ever get out of him about the entire war was the fact that he was captured, kept in and then escaped from a P.O.W. camp and made his own way to neutral Switzerland.

 

All this time he was registered at home as "missing, presumed killed in action". The first his family knew that he was in fact still alive was when he knocked on the door of his home. The shock of his appearance almost giving his mother a heart attack.

 

Hard to believe, but poor communications and the shortage of available info on the men fighting abroad often resulted in families receiving wrong information or no information at all.

 

The guys currently giving themselves selflessly for their countries deserve a mention also in this topic. Hopefully the end of this year will see the vast majority of them safely home.

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@ Dennis

 

That story is rather unique as relatively few escaped to neutral countries. It is a story to be very proud of.

 

WW1 and WW2 are special incentive circumstances relating to people being in the forces. Many were volunteers inspired by the very fact of declared war - that stupid expression "Your  country needs you" and many, probably most were conscripted. Torn from their families and civilian jobs to go and fight a savage war with a large number never coming back or otherwise returning with horrific wounds and disabilities. It ruined the lives of generations and millions.

 

In WW1 our country was never under threat from Kaiser Bill and his band of boy scouts, it was a war of dented ego`s, but in WW2 we were most definitely under threat of invasion, with Hitler occupying all of Europe and grinning "Deutschland Uber Alles" at us a mere 20 miles from the White Cliffs of Dover.

 

It was different with America and WW2. Japan attacked the US with a huge military force and it was Germany who declared war on America, not the reverse. It  was Britain who declared war on Germany in both WW1 and WW2, NOT the reverse.

 

Today, all our servicemen are volunteers, many of them potential career soldiers who joined up to obtain a secure, stable and well paid "job" with promotional prospects and never in their wildest dreams expected to risk their lives in dubious political bun-fights, which have not the slightest threat to our countries security. In fact one could say that these "bush wars" are absolutely nothing to do with us, they are internal affairs and we are simply poking our noses into other peoples business. Astronomically different to the circumstances of WW1 and WW2 where the Western nations and their global collateral were under threat.

 

I would not imagine that the recruiting  figures are very high, with the prospect of putting your life and limb at risk in some remote and irrelevant historically unstable flea pits like Iraq or Afghanistan for absolutely nothing at all - just for kicks eh ?.

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