This 75th D-Day anniversary brings memories of my Cousin Eddy, who landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944, battle site “Omaha.” Eddy was a native Santa Barbaran, born in 1924. Duty called Eddy into the United States Army in January 1943 as a tank driver. In January 1944, Eddy went aboard the Queen Mary at New York Harbor, headed to England to join British soldiers in the Great Crusade to destroy Adolf Hitler’s war machine. On June 6, all hell broke lose. Eddy maneuvered his M4 Sherman tank up 150-foot Normandy cliffs and into St. Lo. His 736th Battalion joined up with Gen. Patton’s 2nd Armored Division, a.k.a. “Hell on Wheels,” attacking and moving ahead full speed. They crossed the Rhine, fought in the Battle of the Bulge and made it to the Elbe. At last, victory in March 1945.
As if that wasn’t enough duty, the Army kept Eddy active as an MP at various concentration camps until December 1945. Eddy returned home to Santa Barbara a decorated (Silver and Bronze Stars) veteran at age 21 and enjoyed life to age 92. Eddy was a real hometown hero. God bless you, Cousin Eddy. RIP.