Monday, May 25, 2009

Memorial Day 2009

On this day we honor and celebrate those who fight, fought and died for our freedom. I want to share with you some pictures of close family members who served and who still serve in our military.

This is my Granddaddy, Roland Gann. He served in the US Army and was in WW II. I just love this photo! Black and White are my favorite. It is a side of him that I never saw!! I wished I would have listened more to his stories before he passed away!

This is my Cousin David Blaylock. He currently serves in in US Air Force. He has been stationed in so many places that I can't keep up! (This pic is of him in a Mig Grave Yard)This is my Great Uncle Coolidge Downer. He will be 85 in November. He served in the US Army and served in WW II.
I want to share with you a detailed history of his account that was in a book published earlier this year with all of our county in Alabama WW II veterans in it.
"I was 19 years old on D-Day, June 6, 1944 on Omaha Beach, France, a member of the 29th Infantry in a front line combat division. Mine was one of the first landing craft that went in that morning about 6:30 a.m. The sun was just coming up and the waves if water were so large we went off into it shoulder deep, our life jackets on. We were receiving a lot of small arms, artillery and mortar fire. I saw about the entire first wave of men killed. Hundreds were wounded, drowning in the water. Most of our equipment was destroyed and truckloads of ammunition and gas were exploding on the beach and in the water. I could have walked around on the water's edge and not stepped on the ground for dead and wounded bodies. Many of them were killed right beside me."
"If the 35 men who were on the landing craft with me, five of us got out of the water and three of us got across the beach to the ridge. We lay there and watched the other landing craft come in and all of the destruction that went on that day. Very few got off Omaha Beach. We got replacements in and chased the Germans all over the hedgerow country in France, and the Germans were always waiting on the other side of the hedgerows. We fought day and night with very little rest or sleep. Many of the replacements were killed the first day."
"I was wounded at St. Lo, France on July 15, 1944 about 3:00 a.m. They took me back to the field hospital about a mile behind the front lines. A nurse in army clothes said: 'We are giving you a pill to put you to sleep and tomorrow morning you will be on a plane to England.' When I awoke the next morning there was a guy on the army cot next to me--a wounded German soldier who had been brought back to our field hospital. When we invaded Normandy I weighed 189 pounds. Thirty-nine days later I weighed 136 pounds. After five weeks in England I was back with my outfit on the front lines of battle again."
"I fought across the Netherlands, Belgium, Holland and Germany. Near the Elbe River I witnessed two American tanks exploding after hitting a road mine. All of those inside were killed. In Germany the civilians were leaving the area to get away from the Russians. A large horse-drawn wagon came down the road filled with people and their belongings. It hit a road mine that blew up the wagon, the people inside, and the horses. It is reported that the 29th Infantry Division had more casualties than any other division in Europe. A book that i have states that the division received 19,815 replacements. The division was 15,500 strong when we made the invasion in France. Seventeen men of a group of 150 from this area in Alabama came back with me. When asked hoe I survived, I have one reply: 'My Mother's prayers.'
"The prison camps and gas chambers in Germany are almost more than I can talk about now--even after all of these years. I still see those scenes in my sleep some nights. As I get older I think about it more, and as I fight the battles at night it is as clear in my mind as if it had happened a month ago. I never saw German prisoners of war mistreated. We were American soldiers. We only killed people when it was "kill or be killed.' That is what we were trained to do, and we did our job."
After the war ended, He served in the Army of Occupation for about four months before returning to the US October 10,1945.
I can not even begin to imagine what all he went through but what I DO know is that he did it for his country and for our freedom!!!
Excerpt from : Hornoring Them: A History of World War II Veterans from Dekalb County, Alabama.

4 blessings:

NancyG said...

It took years for him to talk about the things he experienced and saw over there and I am so glad he did. We need to be reminded how precious our freedom is. He is the sweetest man and I love him to pieces.

Angela said...

Great dedication to your family members!

I am thankful for those who went to battle so that I may have freedom!

Cheryl said...

I enjoyed the pictures. Thanks for a great post!

Leigh Anne said...

What a great tribute. I am so bad to not take time and be thankful for our service men and women. I really needed to read this today. Thanks!