The landings for Larry Michal of Charlotte and Harold “Pop” Eatman of Matthews, both 82nd Airborne paratroopers, were closer to the mark. They landed less than a mile from their targets near Sainte-Mère-Église. Michal was 20 and Chicago-raised.
Before he joined the 82nd, he’d trained as a draftsman. As his regiment,
the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, trained in Nottinghamshire, England, Michal built sand tables showing the terrain of where the 508th would jump on D-Day.
“I saw the aerial photos, and I drew the maps,” he said. “I knew where we were going.” The 82nd jumped at 2:15 a.m. – Michal, before he was given the green light. “I knew where we were at,” he said. “I told the jump-master, ‘This is our jump zone. I’m going out.”
The Germans had flooded fields and he landed in four feet of water. He didn’t see a German that day. But the next day, he and a small group of troopers machine-gunned four officers off motorcycles apparently fleeing the area.
“They had a suitcase with thousands of French francs, and another with German underwear,” Michal said. “I took the underwear.”
[The Charlotte Observer, Charlotte, NC, 06 Jun 2014, Fri. Page A4]