D-Day: 68 Years Later

The following story is composed of articles from Fox News, I found very little on CNN and MSNBC..  I copied them straight from the source so that I don’t take anything away from the story itself.  As you read these stories, remember the brave souls who fought in the Normandy invasion so many years ago.  Few are still living.  If you know a D-Day soldier or Marine, thank them.  They did a whole heck of a lot for us.  They went through Hell for us and the oppressed people in Europe.

Medic Still Haunted

Fox News

The passage of 68 years has not dimmed Army medic Bernard Friedenberg’s memory of “the boy on the beach.”

Friedenberg was just 22 when he took part in the storied Normandy Invasion, hitting Omaha Beach with the 16th Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division, or “The Big Red One” on June 7, 1944. Moments after reaching the heavily-fortified French coastline, and as Nazi artillery rained down from the cliffs above, Friedenberg found a young, mortally-wounded soldier gasping his last breaths.

“He was shot through the chest and as he would breathe, the air would blow out of his chest, so I had to seal off the wound,” Friedenberg told FoxNews.com. “At the same time, I was hearing ‘medic, medic,’ from other soldiers. It was a massacre, an absolute massacre, and I was in the middle of it.”

Faced with the dilemma of continuing to treat the wounded soldier or turning to others, Friedenberg gave the soldier morphine and moved on. It’s a decision that still haunts the 90-year-old New Jersey man long after the invasion that allowed the Allies to gain a foothold in Normandy and begin the march across Europe to defeat Adolf Hitler.

“It was really rough,” he said. “I have some terrible memories. I was patching up guys right and left, on all sides of me.”

More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft took part in the D-Day invasion, which Gen. Dwight Eisenhower called a crusade that necessitated “nothing less than full victory.” By day’s end, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded. But more than 100,000 soldiers survived, including Friedenberg, who would eventually trek through England, Algeria, Tunisia, Belgium, Germany and Czechoslovakia, earning two Purple Hearts, two Bronze Stars and two Silver Stars along the way.

Friedenberg, of Margate, N.J., visited a local school in Atlantic City on Tuesday to commemorate the anniversary, sharing his experiences with students who hung on his every word.

“The day is very significant to me,” he continued. “I lost so many friends on that day. God only knows how I came through without getting hit. But I did get through.”

Friedenberg, as a way of treating his post-traumatic stress disorder — “they called it ‘shellshock’ in those days” — chronicled his experiences as a near-sighted soldier who nearly wasn’t accepted into the service to his return to Normandy on his 80th birthday. The book, “Of Being Numerous: World War II As I Saw It,” published by Stockon College’s Holocaust Resource Center, is now mandatory reading at area college courses on the war, he said.

Despite the book’s near-universal praise for its candor and humor, Friedenberg does not enjoy recounting his war stories.

“He still gets nightmares, and he think back to the men he couldn’t save,” Friedenberg’s wife, Phyllis, told FoxNews.com.

“I have scars on my body, and scars in my head as well,” he said. “They will never heal.”

Other soldiers interviewed by FoxNews.com who took part in the D-Day invasion, including Rufus Broadaway, a paratrooper with the 82nd Airborne Division, recall the day in a much different light.

“I had forgotten that [today] is D-Day,” Broadaway told FoxNews.com when reached in Gainesville, Fla. “We don’t have any plans but to have our flag on our lawn.”

Sixty-eight years ago today, Broadaway leaped from his “hit” plane from the lowest altitude he had ever jumped — maybe 300 feet, he said — and landed on an apple tree.

“The roadway was covered with debris, a lot of dead bodies, injured soldiers, and soldiers so petrified that they couldn’t even move,” Broadaway said. “The air was full of shots and shells. But my captain had us going along. It was a miracle that we got across that causeway. By that time, the Germans had retreated.

“I wouldn’t take anything back,” Broadaway continued. “I will forever be proud of it and hold that experience close. I’m so thankful that I was a part of it.”

FoxNews.com’s Maegan Vazquez contributed to this report.

102 Year-Old Recalls Watching Allied Planes

Fox News

  • Bea-Cohen.jpg

    Bea Cohen was a U.S. Army private during World War II.Courtesy: Bea Cohen

Anyone who lives long enough is all but certain to witness something significant, and for centenarian Bea Cohen of Los Angeles, not only did she see air strikes during World War II–Cohen watched the Allied airplanes en route to the shores of Normandy in support of the D-Day invasion, 68 years ago today. 

It’s a life experience for the 102-year-old veteran that is as sharp in her mind today as it was in front of her face that early morning in England.

“Imagine all of those planes and gliders,” Cohen recently recalled. “Loads of them!” She was a U.S. Army private on a train towards her new post when the dark sky erupted with the thunderous roar of motors.

“It was top secret. Nobody knew even aboard ship nobody knew when or where or what. And there were the planes–the sky was filled with planes and gliders. The Normandy invasion we knew that was the beginning of the end of World War II.”

The war in Europe would end eleven months later and Cohen would soon return to her adopted home in Southern California. After the war she married a Marine named Ray Cohen, who was a prisoner of war in the Philippines. They spent the subsequent decades, as she does now, helping fellow veterans.

“Are you ready? You may not need it now. But you’re going to need it later,” Cohen exclaims to a wheelchair-bound visitor while presenting him with a hand-sewed blanket. It’s a passion of hers to make sure that veterans–especially those with missing limbs–have blankets to help keep them warm. “At first I said, ‘would you like to have a blanket?’ They thought I was selling it. Now, I’ve got to say, ‘I have a gift for you,’” Cohen explained from the state veterans facility she regularly visits. She still lives on her own.

The former Bea Abrams was born in Romania in 1910 and readily recalls the time planes flew into her hometown to bomb the local factories. It was World War I. She says the adults around her were surprised at how low the planes were flying. “And we stood there and waved. And the pilot waved back to me. He had a moustache.”

Cohen immigrated to the U.S. in 1920, settling first in Fort Worth, Texas before moving to Southern California. At the start of World War II, she took a job with Douglas Aircraft helping to crank out planes. She was a real-life Rosie the Riveter. “I went to school in Inglewood to learn all about rivets. Roundhead rivets, little rivets, big rivets, flathead rivets [and] how to use a gun. And they sent me to work at Douglas in Santa Monica.”

All of these years later, Cohen can still sing the refrain of “Over There,” which was a popular American tune during both world wars. She’d sing with her fellow riveters to help pass the time. But the call to serve her country led Cohen to join the Army even though Douglas offered her a nickel an hour raise to stay home. She went through basic training, learned how to use a rifle and even did a stint on the task that no soldier likes–kitchen patrol. That prepared Cohen for her assignment in England and the unlikely position to witness history.

Over the years each would find ways to help their fellow veterans. “[T]here’s a Jewish word called mitzvah m-i-t-z-v-a-h, which means always do a good deed every day,” Cohen explained. “There’s always someone who needs a little more than you do. So you share.”

For many years that meant teaching upholstery to veterans and then using the leftover material to create the blankets that she’d then pass out. Cohen taught the classes until last year when her failing eyesight finally caught up to her. But she still makes the blankets and can’t pass up the chance to let her hands examine a chair to judge the quality of its covering.

Always looking to help in any way she can, Cohen is a regular volunteer at a weekly bingo game calling out numbers. She is also an unapologetic advocate for her fellow veterans. “I come from a country where there wasn’t anything like [peace and freedom]. And I know the difference. And veterans are doing it….What I don’t want people to forget–our men and women veterans; they’ve given a lot. Why forget it?”

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