The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois on May 25, 1974 · Page 12
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The Pantagraph from Bloomington, Illinois · Page 12

Bloomington, Illinois
Issue Date:
Saturday, May 25, 1974
Page 12
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Paragraph A ll Bloomlngton-Normal, III. St., May 2$ l74 D-Day - The Longest By Aliiw Mosby OMAHA BEACH, Normandy, France (IT'II Tlilrty yean ago on June 6, the World War II Allies launched against Western Europe the most massive land. Ma and air invasion ever mounted and that was the beginning of the end (or Adolf Hitler. . It was D-Day. 1941. and for the assault that began at S a.m. on the Normandy roast the Allied High Command had mustered 10.161 bombers and lighter planes, 5,603 transport aircraft including gliders. 5.000 ships and nearly 3.0U0.00O men. Among the thousands of U.S.. Canadian, and British troops huddled seasick, cold and frightened in the Kutdint; craft approaching Normandy's bracks that morning were Americans Leo lleroux and Ambrose D. Decker. On shore. Frenchman Michel Ilardclay climbed out of a trench to stare at the seemingly endless lines of Allied ships steaming towards Nazi-occupied France. When the landings bepn. Michel dc Vallaviclle leaped from his to be the first liberated Frenchman to welcome the allies and was promptly shut in mistake by a GL The Longest Day These four men. and thousands of Allied veterans and French who lived through what Erwin Rommel called the Longest Day, will gather hj Normandy again this June 6 to observe the 30th anniversary of that historic invasion. "That's where I hit the beach," Leo lleroux said, slapping a hunk of a Nazi blockhouse still slicking out of the sand on what the Allies code-worded Omaha Beach. Today on Omaha Peach the French still call it that-thcre is to be heard only the rhythmic slur of the waves and cries of wheeling gulls. But Hcroux remembers how it was that other June day. "We got aboard our boat in England with our 25-pound gear for a training exercise and we didnt know it was D-Day until we were half way across." lleroux said. -We couldn't sleep, that I.CT was so full you couldn't put a bicycle in there. "I was scared. We were just kids. And seasick. It was cold and windy and the water was rough. When the landing boats went into the water a lot sank and hundreds of kids drowned. "Some boys didnt touch the sand, killed in the landing. We hit the sand and cleaned out the German snipers by June 7th." Beach cottages On the beach today gleam new vacation cottages. lleroux pointed to a white house built atop a 1944 pillbox and said, " There are two other pillboxes left. At low tide you can see the hulks of sunken ships off the beach." On a cliff overlooking Omaha Beach, lleroux pressed his palm on the green grass of the American cemetery. Rows of 9,386 white crosses and Stars of David stretch over 172 acres among rustling pine trees. "Every June 6 I think about D-Day, about the kids who didn't make it. I come and w alk around the graves, just to be with them." After D-Day, lleroux was clearing some cows out of a field when he met, and fell in love with, the farmer's daughter, Anne Marie. Leo, born in Lowell, Mass., and brought up in Central Falls, R.I., married Anne Marie 26 years ago and they reared four children in Normandy, lleroux now runs a driving school in the town of Bayeux. . . - ittifC hrOCffhor qkg orearner Decker, of FJmira. N.Y., landed with the 5th artillery corps at Utah Beach near Sainte Marie-du-Mmit. He, too, married a French girl. Jacqueline, and after years In tlic United States returned here to become suinrintcndcnt of tlic VJS, cemetery. Visits to cemeteries Standing before crosses bearing the linmes William M.icciocco, Ohio. Alexander R. Somcrvu, Michigan, William CIihtsO. Kentucky, Decker spoke of tlic cemetery. "We got 700.0(0 visitors List year and expect many more this year. One thousand veterans are coming and that's not counting tlic cliartcr flights we don't know about." he said. "Not just older Americans visit here but students, too. Many French come every year to give thanks. French schools send their children here. British, Canadian and German cemeteries also dot tlic countryside Near Vicrville, at 6:15 a.m. on June 6. 1944, Michel Ilardclay peered from a hole he dug after tlic Allied bombardment of Nazi beach fortifications had started days before. Radio code message "We could not sleep all nighL We figured it was D-Day because British radio broadcast a coded message over and over to resistance leaders inside France: "The long sob. the violin of autumn...", recalled Ilardclay. He dusted off a radio he secretly made of copper wire and crystals after the Germans confiscated radios. "At dawn there was a fog. maybe artificial, and tlic fog cleared and there they were, Ilardclay said, pointing to the now empty sea "Five thousand ships. Nine thousand aircraft. Bombardments, shooting. Tie sand over there was black w ith oil and tar. Trucks, dead men everywhere, jeeps and tanks overturned... "After the Americans secured the beach they started building a quay with stones from the ruined houses. I ran down and asked them to save the stones from my house which my grandfather built in 1875." Today Hardiiny. 60. retired mayor of Viorville, has rebuilt his seaside villa and his two dogs and seven eats romp in his peaceful garden. Utah Beach At Utah Beacli, the mayor of Saint Marie-du-Mont had pbyed unwilling host to German soldiers in his manor house. Then 13,000 Americans from 882 silent gliders parachuted into the area in the dark on June 6. Many were killed. After the Germans left "I ran out to welcome the Americans at my pasture gate," said Mayor Michel dc Vallaviclle. 55, showing the field now populated with grazing cows. "They were standing there, cliewing pirn, with carbines under their arms. Tliey took me for a German and shot me. Five times. "When they saw their error they carried me to a field and gave me blood transfusions. They operated on me under a tent on Utah Beach. I could see the tanks rolling by. It was a spectacle to see that American organization. It was unforgettable." Mayor visited U.S. Bullet holes pock the stone walls of his 17th Century mansion. Tliirty-year-old blood stains from a wounded German still darken the tile floor of his living room. American troops, just landed from in- vasion craft, many with difficulty and under heavy fjrw take a breather fhe C-iV;' '4 ' WtiS&u, I ! s f. . -. . "'.'.,' . k- v. y - Li a tif. f . U.S. tmnns nnur nshnre in Frnnrc f f The veterans of Utah Beach and the parachutists last year invited the mayor to their reunions in the United States. He was made an honorary citizen of Oklahoma and Massachusetts and given keys to the cities of New York and Cleveland and feted from Niagara Falls to Boston. The French have not forgotten DDay. either. Caen, leveled by the fighting, is a new city with high-rise buildings and yellow clouds of pollution. Clover has filled in tlic foxholes and the bombed hedgerows liave grow n back. Museums and monuments . But almost every village in Normandy has a D-Day museum and monuments raised by public subscription. Hundreds of French will fly on a special tour to New York to parade down Fifth Avenue June 6 in a gesture to their liberators. Each year a French woman sends flowers to the graves of unknown soldiers at the American cemetery. Fishermen occasionally pull up pieces of cannon and pile them in a roadside display and farmers found a U.S. Tiger tank in a field the other day. When U.S. veterans show up in Sainte Marie-du-Mont the townspeople drive them around. "We realize how many men were killed and how many remain invalids from the fighting," Mayor de Vallavielle said. "What a price they paid! The French have not forgotten." protection of a chalk cliff on the Normandy coast of France before entering battle on the advance inland. Day -30 years J- V:- sA A At V withtrif ""Iti s. t ' aF r h , - - t OCnCf VlCtim 07 tanker misses cyclist; overturns MAHOMET (PNS)-The driver of a petroleum tanker overturned his rig on Illinois 47 Thursday night as he attempted to avoid striking a motorcylist who had lost control of his vehicle. John Kaebcr of Gibson City was driving his oil tanker for Humko Oil Co. of Champaign on Illinois 47 about 10:30 p.m. Thursday. Near the Lake of the Woods Museum, Kaeber saw a motorcycle with its rider skidding down the highway on its side. Kaeber veered his truck to avoid striking the cycle, went off the road and struck a culvert. The truck overturned onto its side. The truck sustained damage to the front end and ran over the front wheel of the motorcycle. Kaeber was uninjured as was the motorcyclist, Russell Rose. The Corn Belt Volunteer Fire Department from Mahomet was called to the scene. Graduation mass set at Odell ODELL (PNS)-St. Paul's Catholic Grade School will hold a graduation mass at 7:30 p.m. Monday in the church. Following the mass, diplomas and honors will be awarded. School will be held on the regular schedule Monday and Tuesday. Wednesday will be the last day of school and there will be a picnic on the school grounds from 8:30 a.m. until 2 p.m. . m r- I'M r, n J .. -c i r 1 .v- American Ireopt nd quipmtnt land en Normandy tjcnhtd ft.r th. iring fire of the initial landing. 3 -4 An American medical a9 wouns youn9 Jean Loui after the French lad was injured by a German Peoria diocese plans new system The Most Rev. Edward O'Rourke, bishop of the Peoria Diocese, hopes that a new 15-vicariate system "will improve community relations between the vicar and everybody else at the other end." The new system, which will go into effect June 1, replaces the present deanery system used in the diocese. Under the new system, each vicar will be responsible for fewer parishes than before. These smaller vicaries should help improve communications, Bishop O'Rourke said. "It will be much easier for me to communicate with the people by channeling the information through the vicar, who will then pass the information on to the dozen or so parishes under his charge." According to the bishop, that could not have worked under the old deanery system because "each deanery was too large." He also feels that the feedback will be more meaningful coming from a smaller area. For example, Under the present deanery, the Bloomington dean is responsible for parishes in Pontiac to the north and Lincoln to the south. That area will be significantly reduced in the new vicariate system. The Bloomington vicar, the Rev. Thomas W. Maloney, assistant at Epiphany Parish in Normal, will be in charge of parishes later 4 il v- v v.: 1 iJm e- German Field Marthel Erwin Rommel termed the D Day landing 'The Longed Dey."(AP Wirephotot). j 4, ' V. i. . ! , V, " 1 .iii44,rfi,..4L hand grenade during the battle for St. Sauveur in the Normandy sector of France. only in McLean County and El Paso in Woodford County. Bishop O'Rourke said that deans and vicars are essentially one and the same. "All that we know about a dean, we could say about a vicar," he said. The 15 districts were determined after Bishop O'Rourke consulted with members of the rural sociology department at the University of Illinois. The list of Bloomington area vicars, exclusive of Father Maloney, and their areas is: PEK1N: The Rev. Thomas S. Shea, assistant, St. Monica's Parish, East Peoria. Area includes Tazewell and Woodford counties with the exception of El Paso. LINCOLN: The Rev. Robert II. Hoffmann, pastor, St. Patrick's Parish, Wapella. Area includes Logan and DeW-itt counties. PONTIAC: The Rev. John A. Naab. pastor, St. Patrick's Parish, , Dwight. Area includes Livingston County! CHAMPAIGN: The Rev. Edward J. Duncan, chaplain, St. John's Chapel, Champaign. Area includes Champaign and Piatt counties. . IK. . i

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