National D-Day Memorial and Museum

In 1943, 30 men from Bedford, Virginia enlisted in the military to fight in World War II. аAll 30 were involved in the D-Day invasion. а19 were killed before they even exited their landing craft and another 5 died within the first month after the invasion. аWith 24 of their men killed, Bedford became the community wih the highest per capita losses of any community in America from the D-Day invasion. аOn June 6, 2001 President George W. Bush dedicated the memorial in Bedford in honor of those who died during D-Day. аYou can learn more about the Memorial at www.dday.org.

On June 6, 2014 the Memorial honored those who gave so much 70 years earlier. аI thought that this would be a fitting way to celebrate my 63rd birthday. аI was seriously humbled by the presence of not only D-Day survivors but D-Day survivors from Bedford. аThese men were proud of what they accomplished and tell the most amazing stories of what it was like through the eyes of an 18-22 year old. аAs one former Navy landing craft operator told me, “We were approaching our landing zone and a smaller craft sped in front of us. He was about 50 yards ahead when he hit a mine and I watched his whole boat blow up killing everyone. I thought, ‘Had he not gone in front of me that would have been us.’ аThen I looked at the landing boat to my right and I saw it lower its doorway so the soldiers could get out. аAlmost all of them were shot by German machine guns before they ever got out the boat. I then looked down at the men on my boat and knew that in a minute or two the door would be opened and many of them would be killed right before my eyes and there was nothing I could do to help them.”

There isn’t much you can say to a person who tells you a story like that. (In my photos he is the man with the yellow shirt sitting next to his wife.) аAll you can do is thank them for what they did and remember that freedom has its price and for those who participated in D-Day and many other battles, there was no price that was too high to pay for freedom.

The first photo you will see is of a Bedford survivor named Bob Sales. He earned three purple hearts, a silve star and other medals before being wounded in France and losing part of his vision. аThis past year French President Hollande made him a knight of the French Foreign Legion of Honor—one of 6 WWII veterans chosen to recieve this medal directly from the President of France.

аPeople set up a re-enactment area which is why you will see the jeeps, soldiers in uniforms, etc. аWe had three fly-overs; one with a C-47 that was the plane used for the 13,000 paratroopers, one for a P-51 which was a long-range fighter escort in Europe and one for a T-6 “Missing Man” Flyover. аThe T-6 is one of the planes my father taught pilots to fly when he was stationed at West Point and was a Captain in the Army Air Corps. аI think the rest of the pictures are self-explanatory but if you have any questions please ask. And when you see a Vet, any Vet, THANK THEM! аYour freedom is due to their efforts.




ай Robert Frank 2015