Saturday, May 26, 2012

WWII: Uncle Bernie Lands at Omaha Beach

So here's the deal: Uncle Bernie and his sibs didn't learn how to swim as kids. They grew up during the Great Depression and there wasn't much time for that sort of thing. Dad used to sneak off to a watering hole and taught himself to swim, but Bernie missed out somehow. There was a community pool but it cost money to get in or something like that so, well, just know that he never learned to swim as a kid.

When WWII broke out Uncle Bernie joined up. Went to Fort Bragg for basic training where Mom and Dad took the train to see him. It was hot and standing room all the way there, Mom said recently. But they saw him even though there wasn't a proper sleeping room to be had in the whole town... so they stayed in someones house on a dirty old bed. Gross!

Off Bernie went and as it turned out, he was one of the troops who landed at Omaha Beach. You can read all about Omaha Beach at

File:1944 NormandyLST.jpg

Now you might be ahead of me here in the telling of this story, especially if you've served. He was loaded down with his pack and arms... and couldn't swim!! Sunk like a stone. So as human instinct would dictate, he threw off his pack and arms, thrashing about in the too deep water. His CO yelled, Bernie responded, and they all stormed the beach. The rest as they say is history.

Just for fun, click on the photo of the storming of Omaha Beach above and just look at how much gear the boys were carrying! At least the guys in the photo were in shallow water!! (And I do realize that this is probably the only way in which the storming of Omaha Beach could possibly or remotely be seen as fun.)

Photo from the Archive:
Uncle Bernie, 1942
Fort Bragg.

Cousin Cynthia posted this to facebook about Uncle Bernie and Omaha Beach: He never wanted to talk about it, but he did say that when he jumped off the boat with the other soldiers, he had to swim underwater to the shore to survive. He threw off his gun and the cptain told him to go back to get it. First time he ever disobeyed orders. He said there were plenty of guns on the shore to use.

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