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The Story Of D-Day Is One To Never Forget

Seventy-five years after taking part in the D-Day invasion of Normandy, Ray Davis Jr. of Dunkirk could remember helping a comrade struggling to swim reach the Omaha Beach shore and then fighting through “bricks flying off the walls” and “raining bullets” as the Allied soldiers tried to infiltrate the mainland.

Visiting the same site on the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Jamestown’s Paul Arnone was struck by the wide open, empty beaches that had, seven decades earlier, been a crowded sight of soldiers, tanks and ships and some of the most vicious battles of World War II.

Eugene Boner, Paul Arnone, Bob Ostrander, Bill Norris, Spencer Wurst, Abe Mattison, Glen Hansen, Valentine Bossman, Marion Rizzo, Al Lindberg, Harold Bush, Quint Peterson, William Schwan, Marshall Cattley and Leon Vanord were among the Chautauqua County residents who either stormed the beaches, manned the landing, parachuted behind enemy lines, flew aboard bombers or manned ships supporting the D-Day invasion.

The 24-day Battle of Normandy began with the invasion of France on June 6, 1944. It wasn’t until June 30 that the Allies decided they had a secure enough foothold in Europe. In those 24 days, 57,000 soldiers from the United States, United Kingdom, Canada and France were killed.

As fewer and fewer of the soldiers who lived through the D-Day invasion walk amongst us, we are struck by the importance of the Defenders of Freedom Project at the Robert H. Jackson Center, which documented the stories of men like Davis and Arnone and dozens of other World War II soldiers. It is important keep D-Day memories alive, even in video format, for the generations to come to learn more about the horrors of such a large-scale conflict.

The sacrifices of Davis, Arnone, Boner, Ostrander, Norris, Wurst, Mattison, Hansen, Bossman, Rizzo, Lindberg, Bush, Peterson, Schwan, Cattley and Vanord and the tens of thousands of young men just like them from towns, village and cities around our great nation bought the world peace, prosperity and freedom that has lasted 77 years.

Theirs is a story we should never forget.

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