|Omaha Beach, 06 June 1944|
(Photo from the National Archives)
As I mentioned the other day in my Pearl Harbor post, 1941 was 73 years ago. A man aged 17 then is now 90. D-Day was 70 years ago. The men who fought that war are leaving us at an ever increasing pace.
Growing up I heard a lot about the war, from my parents, uncles and aunts and grandparents. Three uncles fought in the war, two were infantrymen, both were wounded, both were decorated with the Bronze Star for valor in combat. Both survived the war, both are gone now.
My Dad's oldest brother was in the U. S. Army Air Forces (the predecessor of my own service, the U. S. Air Force). Uncle Louis was on Okinawa after its capture, maintaining aircraft just as I would thirty years later.
Dad was too young to join up until 1945 when he turned 17. Dropping out of high school to join his brothers overseas, the war ended before he got out of training. He spent three years in Berlin as part of the occupation. He was an eyewitness to the Berlin Airlift.
World War II in Europe ended exactly eight years before I was born. When the 20th anniversary of D-Day came around I was 11. Most of the men who made that landing were still young men in their late 30s and early 40s.
Many of the men I worked with in the machine tool industry in my home town were World War II veterans. They had stories, not about combat, usually about military screw-ups, good times and the stunts they pulled while on active duty. Though they made it sound like a great time, there was always a dark undertone. Sometimes there was a hint of tears as they perhaps remembered a buddy who didn't come home.
So for me, World War II is not ancient history.
This mini-series reminds me a great deal of Band of Brothers and The Pacific. Interviews with the men who were actually there, interspersed not with scenes played out by actors (as brilliant as those two series were) but by actual footage from the war. Much of that footage I haven't seen before, which is startling because over the years I have seen a lot of World War II footage.
I highly recommend this mini-series.
|World War II: The Last Heroes|
Now please excuse me, as I have to watch another episode...