|29TH DIVISION - WWII STORIES|
29th Infantry Division
175th Infantry Regiment
My father was drafted out of high school and never had the opportunity to complete his high school education. He completed boot camp down in El Paso, Texas and was shipped over to England. My father was part of Operation Overlord, later know as the Normandy Landings of the D-Day invasion, arriving on what I thought was the Day 2 of the landing when in fact it was the Day 1 very first wave. As his regiment stormed the beach, my father witnessed many horrors as they fought against the heavily fortified Germans. Eventually, the remnants of my father’s unit made it up the cliffs. The battleships off the coast shelled the cliffs to allow the soldiers to get up and behind the German Pill Boxes. Until this day, both loud bursts of firecrackers during celebrations and the smell of fresh dirt being moved like the fresh cliffs of Normandy have triggered flashbacks. However, these more resent flashbacks in only the last 10-15 years struck me that from any type of construction where large quantities of dirt are being moved triggers traumatic memories of the cliffs being shelled and obliterated. The smell of fresh moved earth triggers an immediate reaction that reminds him of that day on Omaha beach.
It wasn’t until fairly recently that my father has been able to share some of these horrific experiences with me. He was drafted away from his family farm out of High School to perform his duty for his country, and ended up in France. He told me how distraught he was to witness the destroyed farmland and bloated, dead farm animals strewn throughout the countryside of France. Flies and stench were everywhere as it looked like barren wasteland and what best he could describe as a picture from hell.
Medics were close by. They tended to my father who was unconscious. As they loaded my father up on a gurney, a German Sniper dropped one of the medics with a single bullet. My father unconsciously got off of the gurney and helped the other medic load and carry the more seriously wounded medic off of the field, as bullets flew by between the soldiers. His action was noticed by a senior officer at the time. For his actions of trying to save that wounded medic’s life, my father later received the Bronze Star.
Because of this experience during his one and only flight, he has been too traumatized to fly even to this day. As a result, he has been unable to attend many of the veteran events, since they are held a great distances away from his home in Sioux City, Iowa. He neither has the resources nor the ability to travel these great distances. He doesn’t ask for accolades, but I think it must be hard not to be able to take part in these events and to share his experiences or get recognized for his service. He has been combat disabled since he was 19 years old and I just want to get him the validation that he so sincerely deserves.
Copyright: Laurent Lefebvre