D-Day Week 2013 – A Celebration of Freedom- Part 1 of 2

May 27, Welcoming Jack Port, Utah Beach D-Day veteran of the 4th Division.  The sign was made by our great Norman friend YPO Vauclair. We stayed in vacation rentals called gites in the countryside just north of Bayeux.

May 27, Welcoming Jack Port, Utah Beach D-Day veteran of the 4th Division. The sign was made by our great Norman friend YPO Vauclair. We stayed in vacation rentals called gites in the countryside just north of Bayeux.

 

Here we are!  From the left: Nick Tsoulos, Stan Kaull, Moi, Jack Port, Eric Zelt, Jack Raymond

Here we are! From the left: Nick Tsoulos, Stan Kaull, Moi, Jack Port, Eric Zelt, Jack Raymond

Once enemies, but now friends.  Jack Port has his arms around Johannes Börner and his French wife, Thérèse.  Johannes was a German Luftwaffe paratrooper and fought in the battle of the American Army's breakout of Normandy in late July 1944.  Jack was there as well in the 4th Division.  To the right is our great Norman friend YPO Vauclair, who organized the get-together.

Once enemies, but now friends. Jack Port has his arms around Johannes Börner and his French wife, Thérèse. Johannes was a German Luftwaffe paratrooper and fought in the battle of the American Army’s breakout of Normandy in late July 1944. Jack was there as well in the 4th Division. To the right is our great Norman friend YPO Vauclair, who organized the get-together. Johannes and Jack first met one year earlier (June 3, 2012) at an emotional ceremony of reconciliation in the town of Marigyn, France.

My friend Eric Zelt masterfully translates Johannes' stories. His recounting of his indoctrination in the Hitler youth program mesmerized us.  He told us how he came to join the paratroopers, and his capture by the Canadians in the Falaise Pocket in early August 1944.

My friend Eric Zelt masterfully translates Johannes’ stories. His recounting of his indoctrination in the Hitler youth program mesmerized us. He told us how he came to join the paratroopers, and his capture by the Canadians in the Falaise Pocket in early August 1944.

May 30, My wife, Annie, is the youngest member of an older family.  In 1936 her Aunt Melanie moved from Denver, Colorado to England and married a British artillery officer, Robert (Robin) Hunter.  Captain Hunter died in a glider crash near Pegasus Bridge on June 6, 1944 – D-Day.  Here, I am telling the story to a group of young British Air Cadets.  Captain Hunter is buried in the Commonwealth Ranville Cemetery.

May 30, My wife, Annie, is the youngest member of an older family and was born in 1954. In 1936 her Aunt Melanie moved from Denver, Colorado to England and married a British artillery officer, Robert (Robin) A. Hunter. Captain Hunter died in a glider crash near Pegasus Bridge on June 6, 1944 – D-Day. Here, I am telling the story to a group of young British Air Cadets. Captain Hunter is buried in the Commonwealth Ranville Cemetery. (Photo by Nick Tsoulos)

Thank you, Captain Robert A. Hunter.

Thank you, Captain Robert A. Hunter.

 

View from our patio.

View from our patio.

 

May 31, 5:30 pm Lowering the Flag - Retreat.

May 31, 5:30 pm American Normandy Cemetery – Lowering the Flag – Retreat.

 

Folding the Flag.

 

American Battle Monuments Commission Superintendent, Hans Hooker, awarding Jack the Flag.  Hans also read Jack a commendation for his service.

American Battle Monuments Commission Superintendent, Hans Hooker, awarding Jack the Flag. Hans also read Jack a commendation of appreciation for his service.

Hans and Jack

Hans and Jack

 

June 2, Ceremony in the Village of Saintney to honor Major Richard O'Malley.  Jack was with Major O'Malley when he was killed by a sniper.  Jack addresses the crowd.

June 2, Ceremony in the Village of Saintney to honor Major Richard J. O’Malley. Jack was with Major O’Malley when he was killed by a sniper on July 16, 1944.   Jack addresses the crowd with Mayor Michel  Lepourry  (left) and town historian, Jean Paul Pitou (right).

Thank you Major O'Malley.

Thank you Major O’Malley. (American Normandy Cemetery)

Omaha Beach, Fox Red This is the eastern extent of Omaha Beach.  This is section of the beach that was secured by the 1st Division at great sacrifice.

Omaha Beach, Fox Red
This is the eastern extent of Omaha Beach. With great sacrifice, the 1st Division secured this section of the beach.

Our good friend Eric LeBoeuf with Peggy Harris.  Her husband, Billy Harris, was a fighter pilot who was shot down in July 1944.    He buried in the American Normandy Cemetery.  But due to US Government mix-ups, she just found his grave a few years ago. She never remarried and never gave up hope.  I told her that her beautiful love story  changed the world.  She looked me in the eye and softly said, "My Billy changed the world too."  Indeed he did.

June 4, Our good friend and Normandy Cemetery guide, Eric LeBoeuf with Peggy Harris. Her husband, Billie D. Harris, was a fighter pilot who was shot down on July 17, 1944. He is buried in the American Normandy Cemetery.  But due to US Government mix-ups, she just found his grave a few years ago. She never remarried and never gave up hope. I told her that her beautiful love story changed the world. She looked me in the eye and softly said, “My Billie changed the world too.” Indeed he did.         Please watch:  A World War II Widow’s Journey on the CBS clip below.

http://m.youtube.com/#/watch?v=8TT1XFS1LA0&desktop_uri=%2Fwatch%3Fv%3D8TT1XFS1LA0

American Normandy Cemetery - This is about one quarter of the Wall Of The Missing.

American Normandy Cemetery – This is about one quarter of the Wall Of The Missing.

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About Jeff Lowdermilk

I have traveled to Europe several times over the last few years to follow my grandfather's path as detailed in his World War I diary. My grandfather was an American Infantryman who survived the war. This has been an adventurous journey of self-exploration. The friends I have made along the way and experiences gained have greatly enriched my life

2 thoughts on “D-Day Week 2013 – A Celebration of Freedom- Part 1 of 2

  1. Nick Tsoulos

    What a wonderfully beautiful, emotional and edifying trip! Thank you Jeff!

  2. Cecily Baldassare

    Great photo’s Dad! Looks like you are having an incredible time! Miss you!

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