Former Motor Machinist 2nd Class Angelo Yerace’s first taste of war came when he and the other 11 members of the crew of the LCT, Landing Craft Tank, he served on reached the beach at Normandy, France on Day 1 the historic invasion of Europe by Allied forces on June 6, 1944.
Art Nicholas of Englewood received France’s highest military decoration, “Knight of the Legion of Honor,” at a ceremony held Saturday at Boca Royale Golf & Country in Englewood, Fla. He was honored for his service to France and its people a lifetime ago during World War II.
Art Nicholas, of the Oak Forrest subdivision in Englewood, Fla., has been selected as a recipient of France’s highest distinction. He will be named a “Knight of the Legion of Honor” for the part he played in the Normandy Invasion of France during World War II.
Ernie Rutherford of Sandlehaven in Cape Haze was aboard a Navy communication boat during the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, one of the pivotal days of World War II.
Roland Hardt is one American soldier who made the D-Day invasion twice. He also received a bear hug from Gen. George Patton for being “one hell-of-a-good soldier.”
Joe Falis tried to sign up for the service the day after the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor. Trouble was, he was only 17 and he had to have his parents’ permission.
More than half a century after he was shot in the back and hand in two major World War II engagements, the 77-year-old Punta Gorda, Fla. retiree still has trouble talking about what he went through. “It was hell,” he said.
Hugh Bennett of Englewood, Fla. was a radio operator on a B-24 “Liberator” bomber dubbed “The Hard Way.” They were part of the 854th Bomb Squadron, 491st Bomb Group, 14th Wing of the 8th Air Force flying out of a base 90 miles north of London at Metfield, England.
Les Barth was no soldier. He was a music man. Being a gunner in a tank destroyer in Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army during World War II was the furthest thing from his mind a lifetime ago. He was 19 years old when drafted in January 1943. Before Uncle Sam got a hold of…
1st Lt. Matt Williams of Englewood, Fla. flew his first combat mission piloting a B-24 “Liberator,” four-engine bomber over Nazi-occupied France during the D-Day Invasion, June 6, 1944, along the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
John Silvani grew up in an Italian neighborhood in Detroit, Mich., graduated from high school about the time World War II began and went to work at the Ford plant in Dearborn as a teenage tool-and-die maker after receiving a military deferment.
* George Wolhuter took all of the black and white photographs presented here with his twin-lens reflex camera. He also developed and printed them aboard ship in the darkroom on his LST. Ensign George Wolhuter was a gunnery officer aboard an LST which took part in the invasion of Sicily, a secret Malaysian invasion, and…
John Baumer went down to the recruiting office in Cincinnati, Ohio, where he grew up to enlist in the Army in 1942 and ended up in the Merchant Marines before he walked out.
Phil Lockwood of Port Charlotte, Fla. was in the 175h Artillery Company attached to the 29th Infantry Division that stormed Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 spearheading the Allied invasion of Europe during World War II.
Pfc. Vito Mancine of Port Charlotte, Fla. was a 21-year-old Browning Automatic Rifleman when he landed in Normandy, France, about a month after D-Day, June 6, 1944. He was a member of the 5th Division in Gen. George Patton’s 3rd Army.
It was a voice from the past typed in blue on the sheet of yellowing copy paper that dropped from the little book about the 2nd Armored Division’s exploits in Europe during World War II.
His dark blue ball cap with the orange patch and gold lettering read: “SCOUTS AND RAIDERS, 1942-1945, U.S. NAVY WW II, WE LEAD THE WAY.” It was what Art Nicholas of Englewood, Fla. wore when he, his wife and two grown daughters visited all five beaches in Normandy, France on the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day Invasion during the summer of 2009.
Billie Hopkins, who winters at Little Charlie Creek mobile home park in Wauchula, was only 5-feet, 3-inches tall and weighed 112 pounds. His size made him a perfect candidate to be a ball turret gunner on a B-17 or B-24 bomber in World War II. But the Air Corps didn’t want him because he was…
Ed Kent was the gunner on an M-7, self-propelled 105 millimeter Howitzer, who landed June 6, 1944 at Utah Beach on D-Day in Normandy, France during World War II. The 20-year-old corporal survived 15 days before being seriously injured by shrapnel from incoming enemy fire, was sent back to England and eventually the States to recuperate.
Mike Stata was a “hot shell man” on a 5-inch gun aboard the destroyer USS Harding 1500 yards off Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 during the Normandy Invasion. He also served aboard the Harding off Okinawa on April 16, 1945 when his ship was hit by a kamikaze and 22 sailors aboard the destroyer were killed.
He landed on Utah Beach on D-Day plus 6, took part in the breakout at St. Lo, the Battle of the Bulge, Hürtgen Forest, Remagen and stopped at the Elbe River near Berlin at war’s end. Edwin Erving of Port Charlotte, Fla. was trained as an ambulance driver and medic attached to the 5th Armored Division in World War II. He landed at Utah Beach in Normandy, France on D-Day plus 6 with the 5th Armored.
A small American flag hangs from the brick wall outside the front door of Buck Fields’ Port Charlotte home. It’s a manifestation of the former World War II infantryman’s love of the country he fought for so long ago. He hit the beach at Normandy on D-Day plus two, June 8, 1944, with Headquarters Company,…
It was his baptism of fire. Ten days before, in early August 1944, 2nd Lt. Harry Long, a member of the Medical Administration Corps of the 318th Infantry Regiment, 80th Division landed on Utah Beach in Normandy, France as part of Gen. George S. Patton’s 3rd Army.
Bert Rockower was a corporal in the 9th Army that landed on Omaha Beach five months after D-Day during World War II. By then U.S. troops had advanced across France and liberated Paris. American forces were at the Siegfried Line, the massive concrete and steel fortification protecting Germany’s Western Front.