Touring with a Band of Brothers
Ted Moon's Journal
Entry 2 - Invasion!
Hello all, sorry for the absence but there are no public computers in Normandy! Now, I am in Paris on a computer with a european keyboard that I have to figure out and the hotel charges by the minute. so far, Paris is awful. It is nyc but in french which has got to be the worst of all worlds. We arrived here today after a very emotional day.
First to back up a bit... We went to Portsmouth back on monday to visit southwick house where Eisenhower made his bold decision about going or not on june 6, 1944. the wall size map is still there and it is restored despite the building now being a royal navy building.
From there, we went to the Portsmouth D-Day museum which is decent, but not as good as the one in New Orleans. From there, it was off to Bournmouth to get on a C-47, "skytrain" or "dakota" or "gooneybird" that the paratroopers jumped off. It is a one hour ride across The Channel in a thng that does not amount to more than a flyng tin can. It is vintage from the ww2 era and not the most comfortable airplane but it is tough and durable. I got to into the cockpit and see the view that the troop mover squadron pilots saw as they approached Normandy.
However, there were some major differences. First, they had flight attendants and served cookies and drinks and as Earl pointed out, "they aren't shooting at us." The ride was much smoother than what I had expected - a lot smoother even than the little puddlejumpers between Dulles and Boston or nyc I have taken. However, we did have some casualties. Two women lost their lunches, not necessarily too bad considering the awful english roast beef sandwiches at the museum, and many nervous guys. I really enjoyed it although the guy next to me was sweating a storm and said latert that another few minutes and he would have lost it as well.
Chris, our tour guide and editor of ww2 magazine, had someone read the very touching letter that Lt. Thomas Meehan commanding Easy company wrote to his wife and gave to ground crew to deliver. Meehan's plane was shot down and all 18 members of his "stick" or plane, perished on D-Day: the point of the letter was that war was human nature and unless human nature changes, wars will have to be fought and won to preserve freedom and liberate people being oppressed... The same letter could have been written last month.
A "stick" carried 18-20 troopers but we had all 31 on this one because each man carried about 100 pounds of equipment.
Monday night, I stayed up after dinner until 2 am with 5 other people in the bar as Jack, the pathfinder/demolition man who is quite the character was holding court in the hotel bar and telling war stories. Also, many off color stories I will tell you later - but he had me rolling! His parter in crime was a guy named Jake McNeese from Oklahoma whose idea it was to jump into normandy wearing war paint of native americans and gettting Mohawk haircuts. so again, if you see any photos of this or you can even see toy soldiers at the hobby stores depicting US paratroopers this way, that is our friend Jack and McNeese.
More on Jack later but one thing he wanted to talk to me about is how his brother's son married a Korean woman and the "other" Jack Agnew is half Korean, his sort of grandson. Our Jack loves Korean bbq, particularly galbi. Anyway, next, I'll recap D-Day. Tomorrow is a travel day into Holland on a fast train.
More when I have a better keyboard and less expensive computer charges. Hope all is well... Sorry I could not reply to your replies individually... I am trying to get out!
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