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   D-Day was merely the beginning of the end. The Battle of Normandy would last nearly three months.
   Lavern Peterson was an 18-year-old corporal in the 82nd
Airborne Rangers, F Company, 2nd battalion, 3rd platoon leading his squad through the French countryside. His division was tasked to liberate Ste. Mere Eglise, a small French town behind the entrenched German troops on Utah Beach.  Their D-Day started early parachuting behind the entrenched German lines on the night of June 5, 1944.
   After three days of heavy combat Mr. Peterson felt something hit him.
   I've thought about it for some time, and all I can figure is a bullet hit a grenade that I had In my pocket with a bunch of others, and it detonated' one;" he said.
   "I knew I was in bad shape, so I handed my Tommy gun to one of our guys and told him to go get that son at a bitch. All ! could ever figure la the other grenades in my pocket took most of the blast. It hurt something awful. They gave us morphine in a syringe, and I shot myself full of' that the first day. You got relief real quick.
   Mr. Peterson volunteered for the Rangers --- $50 a month extra for Jump pay," he said.
   He would spend .three days on the ground wounded, being approached and robbed by German patrols, until they took him prisoner. He was driven to a French farmhouse and thrown info a small building, with other American GIs.
   There was a medic there, but he didn't have any medicine, so there wasn't much he could do," he said. "There .were a lot of guys in that building banged up pretty bad. At night, there was a lot of moaning and groaning going on."

After the Invasion

Laverne Peterson would be liberated by the Allied push into Normandy a short time later. He would face several surgeries in England to remove grenade fragments from his leg, torso and groin and long recuperation after his leg turned gangrene. He finished the war in an artillery outfit. Of the 12-man squad he parachuted intro Normandy with, he could only find one other who made it out alive. Mr. Peterson lives in Cambridge.

[The Rock Island Argus, Rock Island, IL, 06 Jun 2004, Sun Page 29]

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