THE FINAL SALUTE
June 5, 2019: I’m headed to Bedford, VA where I will sing our National Anthem at the National D-Day Memorial’s Final Salute Ceremony tomorrow.
Around 10,000 are coming to the Memorial to commemorate the 75th Anniversary of D-Day and the bravery of priceless guests of honor: 31 veterans who were on the shores of Normandy laying their lives on the line…for us.
I have not met any of these men yet, but I have met one D-Day survivor who made a lasting impression on me, and that is Cliff.
We met on August 17, 2014 when I sang at the Louisville Bats game in KY. Cliff at the time was 92. I got to sit with him during the game, he made me feel like family. I asked him to tell me a little about his D-Day experience. He smiled when he talked about some memories of his friends as they all prepared for a day that no one could ever imagine, and he cried when he talked of those who died right in front of him…and some who lived through that day – but later took their own lives after what they had seen their friends go through.
If you’ve met me and ever heard me talk about my 50 state journey – you’ve heard talk about “my friend Cliff”.
Tomorrow, when I sing our National Anthem. I will be thinking of Cliff. The influence he had on my life – and the impact he had on our freedom….selflessly. I have pasted a complete bio on his service below.
I will also see – and hopefully meet – 31 more D-Day Survivors tomorrow. Their names and bios are below Cliff’s. Some of you are familiar with these men because many of you wrote letters them for the D-Day Mail Call. If you did take the time to complete that mission, THANK YOU!!! Thousands of letters have come in from all across the country and will be given out tomorrow. (!!!!!) *As always special thanks to Phlash Phelps for letting me share about this mission on his show.
Cliff Burnette: On December 7, 1941 Japan bombed Pearl Harbor and the United States entered World War II. On September 24, 1942, 20 year old Cliff Burnette joined the U. S .Navy. He had been working as a welder at New London Shipyard in Groton, Connecticut building submarines. Since Cliff was familiar with submarines he decided to join the Navy and become a submariner
After joining he was sent to Great Lakes Naval Station for basic training and afterward on to Norfolk for duty assignment and advance training. At Norfolk it was found that Cliff had a heart murmur which disqualified him for submarine duty. Although he couldn’t serve on a submarine he was accepted for surface vessel duty and began training on a LCT (Landing Craft Tank). The LCT was a ship that would carry several tanks and troops into a beach, drop a front door/platform which would allow troops and tanks to go ashore.
From Norfolk Cliff was sent to Europe to begin training for the Normandy Invasion (D Day). He went to Scotland where his LCT was modified with a new weapon called RADAR and where they made practice landings in preparation for D Day. As the invasion time drew near Cliff and his crew were sent to Falmouth, England to join the invasion force. On June 6, 1944 the Normandy Invasion began and as German aircraft and snipers peppered his LCT with shells Cliff delivered his troops and tanks to Omaha Beach.
After Omaha Beach they were sent north to help take the deep water port at Cherbourg, France from the Germans. The Allies needed the deep water port so that larger supply ships could bring supplies directly to France. After Cherbourg the LCT was so badly shot up Cliff and crew returned it to England for repairs.
In early 1945 Cliff was sent back to Norfolk for a 30 day furlough. It wasn’t long before he grew tired of shore duty and requested duty aboard a hospital ship that was scheduled to go to the Marshall Islands. Cliff joined the ships company and soon they were underway toward the Pacific. They passed through the Panama Canal into the Pacific and met up with the 3rd Fleet.
From the Marshall Islands they headed for Tokyo Bay to join 250 other ships to witness the leaders of Japan formally surrender aboard the battleship USS Missouri (BB63). Afterward they took aboard US troops that had been prisoners of Japan. Cliff said that it was a wonderful feeling being able to help those poor boys get back home.
After returning to Norfolk Cliff returned to Great Lakes and was honorably discharged on January 10, 1946. Cliff Burnett passed away at 94 in 2016. (Thanks to Dave Taylor for writing this.)
Below is a list of D-Day Veterans names and bios who will attend the National D-Day Memorial’s Final Salute.
For more information on the National D-Day Memorial’s Events surrounding D-Day, visit their website. You can also live stream the event from this site.
I will be posting what I can tomorrow, my social media links are at the bottom of the page.
To participate in more military and veteran supporting missions like this, join Janine’s Team.
LIST OF D-DAY SURVIVORS ATTENDING THE FINAL SALUTE:
C.E. Bud Anderson, Colonel, US Army Air Force
C.E. Bud Anderson flew two tours of combat against the Luftwaffe in Europe and was his fighter group’s third leading ace. He flew 116 missions in his P-51 Mustang, nicknamed Old Crow, without ever being hit by fire from enemy aircraft and without ever turning back. He flew patrol on D-Day. He continued his military service after the war and retired as a colonel in 1972. In 2015, he was awarded the Congressional Gold Medal and is currently the nation’s lead living ace.
Rover Aubrey, Corporal, US Army Air Force
Rover Aubrey, a corporal in the Army Air Force, supplied and repaired P-38 Lightings for the 34th Photo Reconnaissance Squadron. His squadron’s planes conducted invaluable reconnaissance missions ahead of D-Day to provide information to the bomber squadrons that would destroy key river crossings and impede the movement of German troops in Normandy. He continued moving through France and Germany after D-Day supporting his unit.
Samuel Berry, Second Class Petty Officer, US Navy
Samuel Berry served in the Navy as a combat medic on D-Day at Omaha Beach. Forced to jump from his landing craft so that he could swim to shore and attend to soldiers on land, he was one of few from his landing party to survive disembarkation. After a month in France, he was sent to the Pacific where he served in Guam, the Philippines, Iwo Jima, and off the coast of Japan on a medical ship.
John Bertram, First Lieutenant, US Army Air Force
John Bertram, a bomber pilot and a First Lieutenant in the Army Air Force, served in Europe with the 95th Bomb Group of the 8th Air Force. His 36 missions included two missions over the beaches of Normandy on D-Day and many more over France and Germany. For his service, he was awarded the Air Medal with oak leaf cluster, the Distinguished Flying Cross, and the French Legion of Honor.
Woodrow Casey, Jr., Technician 5, US Army
Woodrow Casey, Jr., served in five campaigns as a radio operator, beginning in Normandy and serving through the Battle of the Bulge. In 1945, he was injured in a landmine explosion. He received a Purple Heart and was awarded the French Legion of Honor.
Harold Curwood Clark, Private First Class, US Army
Harold Curwood Clark served with the 2489th Quartermaster Truck Company in Normandy, Northern France, the Ardennes, Rhineland, and Central Europe. He drove trucks with his unit to transport military personnel, equipment, and 70,000 tons of bombs and other ordnance supplies.
Ed Dymon, 2nd Mate, Merchant Marines
Ed Dymon, a Second Mate in the Merchant Marines, was on the first ship to sail up the Thames into London since the war’s beginning. While he was in a bar in London, the Germans began bombing the city, and he stayed on land to put out fires from the raid. He later took part in the Normandy campaign. After the war in Europe ended, he went to the Pacific and was in Okinawa when the first bomb was dropped on Hiroshima.
Roy Englert, Lieutenant, US Navy
Roy Englert, a Lieutenant in the Navy, served aboard the USS LST-49, which carried tanks, vehicles, ammunition, supplies, and troops to shore. He took part in the invasion of Normandy, the invasion of southern France, and the invasion of Okinawa.
Earnest Fulcher, Ships Cook 2nd Class, US Navy
Reverend Earnest Fulcher served as a Ship’s Cook Second Class in the Navy. During attacks, his job was to drop the depth charges and, occasionally, to fire the ship’s guns. For most of the war, he was based out of Biserti, Italy, and participated in every US Navy commando raid in the area. During Operation Overlord, his ship USS PC-624 was part of the flotilla at Omaha Beach escorting landing craft ships to the beach. From his ship, he could see men landing on shore against heavy German fire.
Hayden Furrow, Private First Class, US Army
Hayden Furrow fought with the 8th Infantry Division and served in the Normandy Campaign, fighting through France and in the Hurtgen Forest. He received the Purple Heart and Bronze Star Medal, and he was awarded the French Legion of Honor.
Floyd Grosse, Technician 5, US Army
Floyd Grosse, a Tech 5 in the Army, operated light Army trucks to haul guns, personnel, rations, and ammunition to the frontlines, driving at night under blackout and combat conditions. He participated in five campaigns in Italy, France, and Germany, including the Normandy campaign.
Henry Gurney, Private First Class, US Army
Henry Gurney, a Private First Class serving with the 2nd Infantry Division, landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He continued fighting into Northern France, then was sent to Brest, where he was wounded. After recovery he fought in Germany with the 104th Division. Wounded again in Germany, he was in recovery in Paris when the Germans surrendered.
Harlan “Linc” Harner, Technician 5, US Army
Linc Harner landed on D-Day supporting the British 50th Division. After June 1944, he joined with the US 1st Army and took part in the breakthrough at St. Lo, the liberations of Paris and Luxembourg, the Battle of Aachen, the Battle of Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge, and the race across Germany, fighting through to VE Day. He fought in five campaigns, firing on enemy fortifications, and supported three armies and 18 divisions.
Robert Homrich, Staff Sergeant, US Army Air Force
Robert Homrich flew 33 missions as a B-17 ball-turret gunner with the 8th Air Force, including 10 missions over targets in France, Germany, Poland, and Romania in support of the Normandy campaign. In a September 1944 special mission, he dropped supplies to the resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto, for which he and fellow service members were later awarded the Warsaw Uprising Cross by the Polish government. His last 19 missions were flown deep inside the German homeland. In 2016, he received the French Legion of Honor.
John Jones, Sergeant, US Army
John Jones, a Sergeant in the 4th Infantry Division, landed on Utah Beach on D-Day with a bangalore torpedo on his back. While setting the torpedo, his hand was wounded by a bullet. He recovered and continued fighting with his unit. In the Hurtgen Forest, he lost his right leg from shrapnel. He received the Purple Heart and the Bronze Star Medal.
Edwin Kendrick, Corporal, US Army
Edwin Kendrick served as an Army combat medic and surgical technician in the 30th Division. He entered battle a few days after D-Day and continued through France to the Battle of the Bulge, and into Germany, where he was at the war’s end.
Vincent Kordack, Pharmacist’s Mate, 2nd Class, US Navy
Vincent Kordack served as a medical corpsman with the 6th Naval Beach Battalion and landed on Omaha Beach with the second wave on D-Day. Mr. Kordack tended to casualties and evacuated men to landing craft. Following the Normandy landings, he was transferred to the amphibious landing section of the USS New Kent and participated in the invasions of Leyte and Okinawa. He received the Combat Medic Badge, the Bronze Star Medal, and the French Legion of Honor.
George McConn, Master Chief, US Navy
George McConn, a Master Chief in the Navy, served aboard a convoy escort in the Atlantic, protecting supplies and transports from Canada to the Caribbean. During the Normandy invasion and until the end of the war, he patrolled the Channel Islands, preventing reinforcements from reaching the German soldiers on the islands.
Ubert McConnell, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Ubert McConnell, an Army Staff Sergeant in Company K of the 116th Infantry, was among the very first men to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He went on to fight at St. Lo and Brest, where he was wounded, and after rehabilitation in England, he finished the war at Compiègne Forest. He was awarded the Silver Star and a Purple Heart.
Paul McGraw, Staff Sergeant, US Army
Paul McGraw, an Army Staff Sergeant, landed at Utah Beach on July 4, 1944, and served in the Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, and Central European campaigns. He fought in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest and the Battle of the Bulge.
Charles H. Neighbor, Private First Class, US Army
Charles Neighbor served with the 116th Regiment of the 29th Division and was a flamethrower with the first wave on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He recorded his experience fighting in Normandy and across Europe through to VE Day in his book, “One Man’s War Story.” He was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government.
Alan Orandorff, Technical Sergeant, US Army
Alan Orandorff parachuted into Normandy on D-Day with 101st Airborne Division. As he fought in France, he was wounded trying to destroy German munition sites. He was later sent to the Pacific. He earned three Purple Hearts and five Battle Stars.
Hamet Lee Piercy, Corporal, US Army
Hamet Lee Piercy, an Army Corporal with the 157th Engineer Combat Battalion, took part in the D-Day invasion and fought in campaigns across France. On January 1, 1945, during the Battle of the Bulge, he was captured by the Germans and spent four months as a prisoner of war before he was liberated by the Russians. He has received the Purple Heart, the Prisoner of War Medal, and the French Legion of Honor Medal.
Hilman Prestridge, Private First Class, US Army
Hilman Prestridge fought with the Amphibious Force attached to the 1st Army and came ashore at Omaha Beach. He fought at Normandy and St. Lo.
Caroll Reeves, Quartermaster Corps, US Army
Carroll Reeves served in the Red Ball Express, delivering supplies to the Allied forces in Europe during and after the Normandy campaign. While in service he was awarded the bronze star for his bravery under fire after a German plane attacked his train car. After the war, he went to the Pacific and later served in the Korean War. He served his country for 18 years.
Ash Rothlein, Tech4, Army
Ash Rothlein served with the 187th Advanced Army Ordinance Depot Company on D-Day. He led a convoy of vehicles to deliver munitions and supplies to front-line troops, where he vividly recalls the image of the newly-liberated French citizens lining both sides of the road in the cold rain to thank the Americans. Ash was responsible for spearheading the effort to install the inspiring “Homage” statue at the National D-Day Memorial, where it was dedicated during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day in 2014. He and his wife also started a scholarship program at the Memorial for deserving students. For his work in honoring the lessons and legacy of D-Day, Ash was awarded the French Legion of Honor medal, which is proudly displayed each June 6th from the “Homage” sculpture.
Nelson Saunders, US Navy
Nelson Saunders, a Bedford resident, served in the Navy as a coxswain on a landing craft, where he delivered soldiers to the landing beaches on D-Day.
Ralph Sigman, Petty Officer Second Class, US Navy
Ralph Sigman’s, serving aboard a landing craft tank carrying three Sherman tanks, was scheduled to land on Omaha Beach at 6:30 a.m. on D-Day, but after the craft started taking on water and lost both engines, the crew were ordered to abandon ship. Of the 27 men aboard, nine were lost in the rough, freezing water. Mr. Sigman and the other men were picked up by a British minesweeper, and he survived to continue to serve in Europe, the South Pacific, Japan, and later in the Korean War.
Bill Sisk, Private First Class, US Army
Bill Sisk went ashore on D-Day at Utah Beach with the 90th Infantry Division. He fought in the Battle of the Bulge and took part in the liberation of Flossenburg concentration camp and in the recovery of Nazi gold and stolen artwork at Merker salt mine.
Anthony J. Tullio, Sergeant First Class, US Army
Anthony Tullio landed at Omaha Beach in July 1944 with the 405th AAA Gun Battalion. He went on to fight in the Battle of the Bulge and continued into Germany. He was awarded the Legion of Honor by the French government.
Raymond Wagner, Private First Class, US Army
Raymond Wagner’s boat was sunk on his first attempt to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day, but on his second attempt, he made it to shore, where he was quickly hit by shrapnel to his kneecap. He continued to fight, transferring between several different field artillery units, through France and into Germany until the end of the war.