We have been absent from blog posts for a few months and would like to play Taps for two of our honored veterans who passed away in August. B-17 Pilot Clarence Arand and Navy Seaman Orville Barber. They were both incredible men and will be dearly missed. You can read about both of their experiences on our main Stories page.
We are honoring the 73rd Anniversary of the D-Day landings in Normandy, France on June 6, 1944 with something a little different than normal. At random, we chose a local veteran to the greater Cincinnati area and visited his resting place. Pfc. Raymond DeMonge, a 101st Airborne Signal Company man, was tragically killed in action on the evening of June 6th right outside Sainte-Mere-Eglise in Normandy when his glider was hit by German anti-aircraft fire, destroying the wings, which caused the glider to spiral into a crash landing. This is an article from an edition of the "The Cumberland News" of Cumberland Maryland dated November 6, 1950. The story is titled "Local Man Learns Details Of Tragic D-Day Crash Of Glider In Normandy". In this story we found the name Raymond DeMonge, the 24 year old whose resting place we visited on Memorial Day. Wow! Just wow. We are very excited to be able to tell his story and make sure he is never forgotten. Over this past week, we couldn't find any information from people who lived in his home town of Fayetteville, Ohio and there was nothing about his death online except for a mention that he was with the 101st A/B Signal Company and was killed on D-Day. Finding this article was an absolute blessing...
"Riding in the second glider echelon as the invasion got underway, the unit left Aldermaston Airport, England about 6:30 p.m. on D-Day June 6, 1944. The plywood glider cut loose from its tow plane just before dusk near Sainte-Mere-Eglise, Normandy.
What happened is still a partial mystery. Neither the pilot nor co-pilot survived, as the glider overshot the airfield and crashed into a grove of trees before smashing upon the hedgerow.
Staff Sgt. Harrison, an assistant radio section chief, was in the tail section of the glider, preparing to detach it for quick unloading, when the glider cut loose.
There was a crash and almost the same instant everything went black, Harrison recalls. When he came to, feeling that something weighing tons was pressing on his head, he heard Pvt. Lester Gunderson, Chicago, Ill., a buddy riding in the center compartment, yelling, "Harrison, where are you?"
It didn't take long for uninjured comrades to pull the debris, including bicycles with which he had become entangled, from the local man..."
The article then switches to an airborne soldier by the name of Reese.
Reese Recalls Crash
"Reese, who was a technician fifth grade in the 101st A/B Signal Company, was able to fill in a lot of the details.
He said Pfc. Raymond DeMonge of West Virginia (incorrect, he is indeed from Brown County, Ohio), sitting next to him, had a premonition of death, predicting during the channel flight that he would not come out of the landing alive.
Reese said a few moments after the tow plane cut the glider loose, the co-pilot leaned back to yell, "Tighten your belts. We're going to crash."
That quick, Reese related, pieces of the glider wings began to explode and fly by the window and then he felt he was turning over and over and over.
Out only a few seconds, Reese came to wondering if he could get up and found he could, in spite of the fact that his ankle (which was badly broken) hurt badly.
He was worried too he explained, because Pvt. Hart on the far side of the plane, fell back helplessly each time he started to get to his feet. Upon investigating, Reese found Hart couldn't arise because his safety belt was caught in the splintered plywood frame. He said the incident struck him as so funny that he laughed the hardest he had in his life.
Reese recalled seeing the bodies of the pilot and co-pilot, thrown clear of the wreckage and of five members of the outfit, including DeMonge and T/S Robert W. McCullum. Only two men, he added, were able to walk away from the crash."
Charles Warren, a B-17 tail gunner with the 335th Squadron, 95th Bomb Group, was shot down near Brussels and with the help of the Resistance, was able to avoid German soldiers and being captured all together! On September 3, 1944, after 8 months of moving around dressed like a civilian, a resistance leader took Charles on his motorbike to American lines as the Allies pushed across France. By Mid-September 1944, he was home with his family in Kansas.
Good evening friends! Towards the end of last year, we had the distinct honor of spending some time with Clinton Riddle, who saw combat with the 82nd Airborne in all 6 campaigns in the ETO, North Africa, Sicily, Italy, Normandy, Operation Market Garden in Holland, the Battle of the Bulge and the push into Germany. This is his story...
"I was born in 1921 in Loudon County Tennessee. I went into the Army on the 12th of December 1942 and landed in Casablanca, Africa May 10, 1943 and served 30 months overseas. I served in French Morocco, Algiers and Tunisia, made the invasion of Sicily, the invasion of Italy at Salerno and was then stationed in Ireland where we prepared for the invasion of Normandy. The weather was so bad there that we didn’t get much training, so they shipped us to England to finish our preparation. I crash landed in my glider in Normandy on DDay +1. We fought for 33 days and nights without any relief and out of 155 men in my company that went in, only 38 were able to return back to England, the rest had been killed or wounded. When I crash landed in my glider in Holland near a town called Grave, I was acting co-pilot and our glider stood up on it’s nose and it threw me to the crash bar and seriously injured my ribs. From there I was sent to Soissons, France and waited there until the break through of the Battle of the Bulge. We were the first unit sent into Bastogne, the 101st followed us in. Our unit was pushed up into a town in Belgium called Webermont and that’s the reason the 101st was trapped in Belgium. Following the bulge, we were sent back to Soissons, France and by then the war had ended. I had enough points to come home. I had my 85 points. Our division was credited for 422 days under enemy fire. Following the war, I was in a hurry to get home. I wouldn’t let nothin stop me from coming home. I had been gone for 3 years. It was amazing to see my family again because I’m an only child. My mother died shortly after I came home. But it was good to be home. I'm from Sweetwater Tennessee... A genuine Hillbilly and proud of it."
Our honored veteran Frank Buschmeier, was excited to throw on his original A-2 jacket to help us say Happy 4th of July to all of our readers!
Edward Kobbeman flew Bell P-39 Airacobras with the 68th Fighter Squadron of the 347th Fighter Group, 13th Air Force based at Guadalcanal and Bougainville in the Solomon Islands during WWII. He flew 98 combat missions between April 1943 and May 1944.
It is with heavy hearts that we regret to inform you all that our friend Alvin Roehr passed away suddenly on March 10, 2016, only a few weeks after we had the honor of interviewing him. Though we are deeply saddened with this news, we are also proud to have called him our friend. We have one more incredible angel to watch over us. One last salute to you, Alvin, may you rest easy with your crew mates up in the clouds.
Honored veteran 1st Lt. Charles Gribi on a bicycle enjoying the beautiful English countryside in June 1944...
Last weekend we were able to spend some more time with our good friend Lt. Colonel Richard E. Cole, who was Jimmy Doolittle's co-pilot on the famous Doolittle Raid on Tokyo following the Japanese surprise attack on US Naval forces stationed in Pearl Harbor. This is part of our "Then and Now" veterans portrait project. It was great seeing Mr. Cole again and he looks great for 100 years of age!
Honored veteran Frederick Muller and his father Maximilian Muller. Frederick served with the US Army during World War Two as a Lieutenant in the Infantry in Europe, while his father Maximilian served with the German Army during World War One. Here are their service portraits together. Father and Son. Two world wars. Two opposing sides.
Honored veteran Carl Burger proudly shares his dog tags with us.
When our honored veteran Carl Bertrand came home from the war, he met and married his sweetheart and built his own home that he lived in for over 50 years. He told us that this is the most proud accomplishment he has had in his life.
Honored veteran Charles Tharp with a Native mother and child while he was on the Marshall Islands in the Pacific during WWII
This weekend we had the honor of being asked to attend the 100th Bomb Group reunion in New Orleans. Here are the portraits of the veterans who we were fortunate enough to spend a little time with.
Honored Veteran Louis Breckenridge looking fancy during his senior year of high school. We love this photograph his son sent us!
An Army Song Book from honored veteran Bob Arand
Honored veteran Clarence Arand's buddies enjoying some barrel beer
Paul Arnold is quite a sharp guy for being 91 years old, and the cycling certainly helps! He was a US Army Combat Engineer officer in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War Two. Today, he rides 5 miles every day on his bicycle to stay in shape. "I'd like to think that my basic training got me into the habit of staying in shape and I like to think that riding my bike is keeping me young."
Today we would like to take the time to wish a very Happy 100th Birthday to Lt. Colonel Dick Cole's 100th Birthday, who was Jimmy Doolittle's Co-Pilot on the famous Tokyo Raid. Happy Birthday Lt. Colonel Cole!