Tuesday, June 5, 2012
Marcus Carey’s On the Marc: June 6, remember D-Day, and all the heroes
I have a very good friend to whom I place a phone call every year on June 6. I call him merely to thank him for his service to our country. You see, 68 years ago he flew in formation over the English Channel and parachuted down behind the German lines in France, right on top of the enemy to fight against evil and tyranny. risking everything he had to free others.
I had the chance to interview him several years ago when I had a little radio show in Cincinnati. His delivery was so matter-of-fact I was stunned. But as I drew the story out from him I was transported back in time to re-live those moments and share them with my audience. (A later version of the interview can be seen here: www.ustream.tv)
On this day, June 5th, he and the men of the 101st Airborne division were preparing to leave before dawn the next day on a mission which was top secret even to them. Their sleep on this night would be fraught with anticipation, unlike that of most reading this column today.
In the dark he and his fellow soldiers were getting ready, mentally and physically for departure. As they loaded onto the planes, their parachutes packed and their pockets filled with K-rations, socks and necessities, these brave young men were about to embark on an historic mission. Their planes lifted off the ground and spent hours getting into formation. Before long into the darkness over the water they flew right into the anti-aircraft guns mounted on the shoreline of France.
Those that survived the battering penetrated into airspace over the occupied farmlands and there the doors opened and from just hundreds of feet in the air one brave young man after another jumped into the sky falling toward a countryside teeming with German soldiers.
My friend and his small band of warriors landed safely only about a mile away from their target. Their first order of business was to find the other soldiers, using little “cricket” clickers to locate each other in the darkness. The first thing they found was a machine gun nest which killed two of the four immediately. My friend was hit in the stuffed pocket of his jump pants and went down into some water where he stayed until it was safe to move.
His story of bravery has been told many times. He made it a quest to jump over France again on the 50th anniversary of D-Day. He put together a team of men, found a restored airplane, secured the permits and dove out over Normandy in remembrance of the day, the men, the cause and freedom. His story was told, the images captured and his jump immortalized in the pages of his book “Return To Normandy”
I know that Bob Williams is a friend to many. I know that his story is that of American heroism which is replete throughout our history. But I also know that as the rest of us go to sleep tonight, quietly, safely in our beds at home, I for one will be thinking of the sounds of C-46 engines roaring to a start, the grunts and groans of men lifting heavy packs onto their backs, checking and re-checking their weapons, hearing the sounds of their boots on the ground as they nervously march in single file to load their planes with courage.
And tomorrow, as I do every year, I will call Bob Williams on the phone just to thank him for being my friend, and to thank him on behalf of a grateful world, for his service to the cause of liberty.
June 6 is the anniversary of D-Day. We should never forget.