D-Day Anniversary 2009by Kyle Kirby
On June 6th, we celebrated the 65th anniversary of D-Day. Here are a few of the pictures from our meeting, which included a presentation from Jim Rosemond.
Former F-86 and F-100 driver Gerald (Jerry) Gorrie greets former P-47 and P-51 driver Art Sulteen at our D-Day anniversary gathering!! Magical getting these guys together!!
Two different perspectives of the D-Day experience. On the left is Col. John Parker and Warren Shook on the right. Various units of the 8th Air Force participated in the invasion. The Heavy Bombardment Squadrons flew high to help saturate the German coastal defenses prior to the invasion. That would be where John was in his B-17. Also, medium bombers from the 9th Air Force flew at lower levels for the same reason. Fighter units were deployed as well to defend against the Luftwaffe (which didn't show up) and pulverise defenses with bombs and machine gun fire. Also they interdicted supplies and any traffic they could find on the roads around the Cotentin Penisula. As well there was the Navy bombardment taking place to help our troops secure the beach head and move ashore. Warren represents the "boots" on the ground!! The guys that see the whites of the eyes of our enemies!! What a major undertaking this was and the choreography of it is overwhelming!! It must always be remembered that all of the mighty weapons we produce do one thing. They support that soldier that is carrying that rifle on the ground!! This was a great day at HAM!
Our meeting was almost standing room only. This is very encouraging for us. We really are changing lives here. I had an old friend from FedEx bring her son out for the meeting. He has just joined the Air Force. He had never met a WW II vet before and was amazed at our cast here!! In this picture are Randy and Greg Lail. They are Pete's sons and were both great football players at Hudson High and later NCSU!!!
Jim Rosamond has been to the Normandy coast and has accrued a wealth of knowledge on the much of the European Campaign. We are fortunate to have him here to share his knowledge and travels. Jim gave a slide presentation on D-Day with various maps and photographs for our meeting on the 65th anniversary of Overlord!! It was fantastic. It was moving to see the current photos he took with a mix of historical pics taken in 1944. There was much talk during the presentation and what really made it special was the five D-Day veterans that were there with us that also commented on events!! It was truly pretty spectacular!
These guys were actually a part of the operations on or near the beaches of Normandy. What a privilege it was to have them here for our special event!! In the front is our pal Warren Shook. As I've noted on the site here previously, Warren jumped in with the 502nd PIR, I Company. His plane was hit in the cockpit when they jumped but all made it out. Warren said he was number 13 out. Guess it was lucky in his case!! He saw intense action from the minute he hit the ground. The paratroopers were helping to protect the amphibious forces coming on the beaches. Bill Brown (l) and Pete Lail (r) were tasked with bringing the war machine ashore on their LSTs. It's scale was unprecedented in history. Bill actually saw several boats flipped over by 88 shells and saw a P-38 crash as well. Pete said they were supposed to go on the 5th of June and he got very little sleep for two nights in preparation. During Jim Rosamond's slide presentation, Pete said the only reason he was there was because he couldn't run back across the English Channel!! He is very funny, but he soon got on a more serious note. He said that his biggest fear was not losing his life, but the fear he would not perform his mission correctly!! I found this very profound and realized through his humble statement why we are such a great nation. He knew many other men were relying on him and he was part of a much bigger picture. We are so fortunate to have these wonderful men here at the museum to share with us something you can never read in a book. They are an unbelievable resource and we could never thank them enough!!