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From The

MAY 2004

Dear 508 Veterans,
            Family Members,
                         or Friends of the 508th

Remembering Those Who Gave Their Lives in Normandy

   These men represent all those “Red Devils” who gave everything they had to give. May they continue to rest in peace as we continue remembering them.

  •  John Jampetero, who drowned when he landed in the waters of the Merderet River;

  •  Capt. Edward F. King, Special Operations Officer, who was gravely wounded in Normandy and later died in England from his wounds;

  •  Capt. Ignatius P. Maternowski, Catholic Chaplain, who was KIA; and

  •  Lt. Joseph Shankey, who was KIA.

   It is impossible in the space and time we have here in this column to remember all those 508ers who made the ultimate sacrifice in Normandy sixty years ago. But I do want to mention the names of some 508ers who paid with their lives in the invasion:

D-Day Plus 60 Years

   Hard to imagine it has been sixty years since the summer of ‘44. Think of where we have been in the years since--flying in passenger jets for the first time (thanks to the de Havilland Comet and the Boeing 707), into outer space for the first time with Yuri Gagarin and Alan Sheppard, landing on the moon with Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin--none of it would have happened had not thousands upon thousands of Allied soldiers risked their lives to defeat Hitler’s Nazis in the largest invasion of all time, Operation Overlord.My first D-Day-related experience was viewing “The Longest Day” when it was released in 1962. I was eight years old at the time. Still, I remember this event distinctly--after all, my father made certain we Nation boys (I have two younger brothers) knew the significance of June 6.

   “The Longest Day” was and is a marvelous movie. I now have it in DVD format, and I’ve viewed it dozens of times. Having been to Normandy a few times in the past few years, it is interesting to see locations with which I am familiar.

   It’s also fascinating to see how the movie was “Hollywoodized,” i.e., John Wayne playing John Wayne playing the part of Ben Vandervoort of the 505 and a graying actor (can’t remember his name right now) at least in his mid-50’s attempting to play the part of General Jim Gavin in his late 30’s.

   Though incomplete (and incorrect in some instances), “The Longest Day” is a great film. Even with Hollywood’s computerized special effects and technological innovations that have developed during the last sixty years, there are no film-makers around who could do the story justice now.

Just a Texan who types,

Bill C. Nation
Email: bnation@sw.rr.com (new address)

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