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From The


JUNE 2009

     D-DAY PLUS 65 – Tears and cheers marked each day in the area of Normandy as people of many nations marked the passage of 65 years since the invasion of France (or the Débarquement de Normandie, as the French term it).
Many significant ceremonies took place, some in little known villages such as Gourbesville and Hémevez, to remember those who fell on D-Day and the days that followed.
The opposing forces were remembered as well with a ceremony at the La Cambre (Calvados) Cemetery where more than 21,000 German war dead rest.
     In a number of these ceremonies, new memorial panels were unveiled documenting battles and personalities. The panels and their content were provided through the efforts of the 120 volunteer members of the local ASSOCIATION U.S. NORMANDIE whose slogan of “mémoirie et gratitude” says everything about them and their chosen mission.
On June 1st, the 508th lost a veteran, R. B. LEWELLEN of Company “I”, who was about to be honored with such a panel in Gourbesville. His son, RANDY was in Normandy to receive various honors in his father’s name when he received the news. On D-Day, R. B. landed in an easily distinguishable spot near a huge oak tree in a pie-shaped pasture just outside the Gourbesville square. He had almost immediately been confronted by three Germans. In the ensuing firefight LEWELLEN shot at least one enemy solder but was badly wounded in his left hand and also in his leg. He was taken captive and brought to a nearby German aid station.
Ironically, less than 24 hours after R.B.’s death, with permission of the landowner, RANDY and a few friends entered the pasture with a metal detector. The oak tree had blown down in a storm five years ago. Mere seconds after approaching what is now an immense stump, a spent M-1 Garand casing was unearthed. Almost certainly it had been fired by R.B. just before he was wounded and captured. He had been the only American fighting in that field. Sixty-five years after the fact, his son RANDY stood on the spot where R.B. had been wounded and held a casing that his father had fired at enemy troops, an emotional event.
GOURBESVILLE MEMORIAL UNVEILING – Two days later, a pair of moving ceremonies were held. In the first RANDY received a proclamation from the Mayor of Gourbesville declaring his father to be a Citizen of Honor. In addition, a plaque was unveiled on the wall of the building that had housed the German aid station where R.B. had been brought after his capture. It was there that LEWELLEN had his mangled left hand amputated and his leg wound treated.
During the second event, held at the crossroad 100 meters distant, a large memorial was dedicated which details what happened to R.B. LEWELLEN and how JAMES HATTRICK, also of Company “I”, met his death.
During the get-together following the ceremonies, a Gourbesville resident recalled that a dead German had been found in that same field on D-Day. It appears that R.B. may have scored two hits as it was previously known that one of the three enemy had been wounded and evacuated with R.B.
TAPS – FRANK LONGIOTTI, Company C, took his Final Jump in Mead, PA on May 30, 2009.
WILLIAM H. “BILL” TRABAND, also of Company C passed on April 27, 2009. BILL, then a Sergeant, was a recipient of the Silver Star for gallantry in action during the Battle of the Bulge.
SEARCHING – FRANCOIS and NELLY VAN LOO-POLLEY of Belgium are adopters for the grave of PVT EMERY W. GAYDOS in the Normandy American Cemetery. PVT GAYDOS was a member of Company C and was killed in action on 23 June 1944. FRANCOIS and NELLY are seeking any available information about the man whose grave they lovingly tend. If you have information to share, please e-mail them at nelly.polley@skynet.ne
VIVIENNE ROWE of Florida recently visited the American Cemetery in Normandy. By happenstance she came across the grave of PVT FRANK A. TREMBLAY of Company H. TREMBLAY was killed in action on June 11, 1944, the same day that she was born. Touched by that coincidence of dates she is striving to learn more about PVT TREMBLAY and would welcome insight from anyone who knew him. Please feel free to contact her at tomvivrowe@bellsouth.net
WOLLATON MEMORIALS – Two handcrafted and engraved benches have been created by Wollaton craftsmen honoring the 508th and have been positioned in the Garden of Honor.


Dick O’Donnell
760 Conestee Drive

Melbourne, FL 32904
PH: (321) 759-6174
e-mail: Jumpmaster@508PIR.org

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