Tuesday, June 10, 2014

D-Day Remembrance

As I watched the D-Day remembrances this weekend, I thought of my dad who has been gone these 30 plus years.  Dad was a college graduate when he enlisted for the Army.  He was chosen to be one of those 90 wonders, an officer trained quickly and sent off to the battlefield.  If things had gone as planned, he would have been commanding somebody on the D-Day landing and probably wouldn't have come back alive.  At least that is what Dad said about the men he knew of who had trained for that. 

I heard two different stories about why Dad got scrubbed from the officer training.  One was that he was found to be color-blind and was taken out.  The other, which makes more sense, to me was that he was found to need extensive dental work--teeth pulled and dentures fit, and was scrubbed for that reason.  I was told both of those stories at one time or another in my childhood.  I remember that my dad regretted not making officer, regardless of the risk.

Instead Dad was sent to train for the Army Air Corps, the precursor to today's Air Force.  He was a signalman.  He trained in Florida and the Southwest desert.  He went to the Hollywood Canteen at one time and went home to visit in Illinois before he got shipped out to Europe.  Dad landed planes, before there were control towers, men on the ground waved to the planes where to land.  I remember him talking about sending men out who never came back.  He was in England, near Cambridge for most of the War.  He had fond memories of England which he transferred off to me.

After the war, the men who had not seen combat were the last ones to get shipped back to the States.  Dad volunteered to be in the motor corps for the mop up crew driving around Europe looking for Nazis and assessing the war damage.  He got to Munich and went up to the Eagle's Nest where Hitler had a fortress.

Eventually it was his turn to hop a ship--The Queen Mary, and head for the States.  He got discharged soon after he got back to the States and I don't remember any details after that.  I watch those D-Day remembrances and wonder if I would even be here if Dad had not been scrubbed from being a 90 day wonder.  I wonder if Dad would have survived the D-Day invasion.  I say a prayer for those men who lost their lives that day.

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