Sunday, November 15, 2009

Veteran's Day - 2009

Veteran’s Day
November 11, 2009

We have visible memorials standing through out this country as well as many countries abroad, honoring those who have served and paid the ultimate price for our freedom. We can pick a veteran out of a crowd of people when they wear a certain hat, a pin or a uniform on days like Veteran’s Day, Memorial Day and Fourth of July, but would we be able to identify a veteran at other times?

Some veterans carry the obvious signs of their service – a missing limb, a deep jagged scar or that certain look in their eyes. So, who is a veteran?

He’s my dad that stormed Omaha Beach at 19 years of age. He’s my uncle that flew 52 successful missions as an Air Force pilot over Italy. She’s my daughter-in-law that served in Dessert Storm, slept on the ground and yes, ate a bug or two. She’s my best friend who served 22 years in the Air Force before retiring but continues to serve as a leader in Soldiers Angels. She’s my niece who decided to join the Army Reserves and after weeks of being told she’d never make it through, graduated at the top of her class. Other veterans carry their evidence inside of them with pins holding a bone together, shrapnel in a leg or possibly a greater kind of inner steel – their heart and soul forged together in the hell of adversity.

It’s impossible to know who is a veteran just by looking at the outside. Maybe it’s the family doctor or nurse you see in the office that saved countless lives in Viet Nam; the older person who bags groceries aggravatingly slow but helped free a Nazi Death Camp. He’s the homeless person living on that street corner; a POW who left as the person you knew but came back someone you didn’t … or not at all. They are the anonymous heroes that lie in the Tomb of the Unknown Soldiers that forever will represent and preserve the memory of all those anonymous heroes who died unrecognized on the battlefields or in the darkness of the deep oceans. He’s the drill instructor that never saw combat but has turned “couch potatoes” and gang members into the strongest Marines and taught them to watch each other’s backs. A veteran is an ordinary but yet extraordinary individual who has offered his best years in the service of his country and sacrificed his ambitions so others would not have to sacrificed theirs. They are the greatest testimony to the greatest nation ever known.

Father Denis O’Brien sums up a veteran so very well:

“It is the soldier, not the reporter, who has given us freedom of the press. It is the soldier, not the poet, who has given us freedom of speech. It is the soldier, not the campus organizer, who gave us the freedom to demonstrate. It is the soldier who salutes the flag, who serves beneath the flag and whose coffin is draped by the flag, who allows the protestor to burn the flag.”

Thanks to all of our veterans who have served this great nation and may God bless and protect all of you and continue to give you the strength and courage needed to keep us all safe and free.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Remembering D-Day 65 Years Later

The Greatest Generation ... and what a generation they all are! Friday evening, June 5th, flipping through the television channels trying to find something decent to watch, I came across the beginning of "Saving Private Ryan". Like many times before I decided to watch it, trying to imagine my Dad 65 years later, walking across the green grass of the American cemetery in Normandy, France like "Ryan" did in the movie. I wondered what Dad would have thought today looking out into the calm of the English Channel at 85 years of age. Would he still see the burning LCI 92 he was on that never made it in ... his comrades laying on Omaha dead, wounded and screaming out for help ... the clear waters of the Channel today instead of the bloody waters he witnessed at 19. Would he feel peace today as opposed to hatred and war ... smell clean air over smoke, fire and death. These questions and more were racing through my mind as I watched the beginning of this movie. For now, my questions will remain unanswered because he has been gone for over 7 years now but my instincts tell me that it would all come flooding back to him as it did to those veterans who returned to Normandy for the 65th anniversary of D-Day.

Today I sit in deep thought as I review in my mind the "celebrations" seen on the news this past Saturday, June 6th. Seeing the raw emotions on the faces of those veterans that made the journey back to Omaha Beach... listening to their stories as tears streamed down their faces... watching them point to the exact spot on the beach in which they came ashore was overwhelming to say the least. Seeing these frail men today standing tall, or in some cases sitting, saluting our American flag with the same courage, admiration and love of country they had 65 years ago.. their convictions still just as strong today, was amazing to watch. I am in awe of the legacy the "Greatest Generation" has left us and am proud to be the daughter of one of it's "members". Just as my Dad made a commitment to honor, serve and protect this great country of ours, I vow to keep his memory alive for my children and grand children - they will always know the veteran side of Grandpa! As for my Dad .. my hero ~I will always miss him but he lives on within me in what I do, how I treat others, how I face life's challenges and being one of the co-founders of Heavens Heroes as we support today's troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, or where ever they happen to be deployed--it's the right thing to do and I know Dad would be proud of the work we do.

God bless our veterans... past, present and future!

Monday, November 24, 2008

Veteran's Day ~ 2008

Veteran’s Day 2008

As a member of the ‘baby boomer’ generation, the elections behind us and wondering where the future will take us, one thing remains unchanged… the dedication our men and women in the Military have for this great nation of ours. They are our sons and daughters, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, and our neighbors. They come from different walks of life, all fifty states and don’t ask very much of us, just our support until they all return safely. Some have already paid the ultimate price… their lives.

I have visited all the Memorials in Washington, DC as most of you have and sat in deep thought before the Vietnam Memorial where names of friends are etched in the cold black granite. Trying to comprehend what these young men and women endured was impossible. The World War II Memorial is another that holds a special place in my heart as my dad stormed Omaha Beach at 19 years of age. There are thousands of names on one and thousands of bronze stars on the other representing those that did not return in exchange for our freedom and that of our allies. So many times I’ve tried to imagine what it must have been like for my dad and the friends I lost in Vietnam at such a young age. Today I am one of the co-founders of Heavens Heroes offering support to our troops and the families of our fallen heroes as they deploy to Iraq and Afghanistan, trying to make a small difference in their lives. I often wonder where their Memorials will be built and if they’ll have to wait decades to be remembered and thanked.

My respect and gratitude for Veterans past, present and future runs very deep, for their dedication to our country is endless and unquestionable. Our freedom is fragile but the bravery and efforts of our Veterans strengthen and preserve it. Veteran’s Day should be a time of reflection, a time to thank our military, to try and comprehend where they have gone, what they have done and the sacrifices made to keep our country free. This does not require us to be Republican, Democrat or Independent, for the war or against it. All that is necessary is to let our troops know that they have our support.

As the daughter of a D-Day Veteran and a member of Heavens Heroes, I thank each one of you for your service and loyalty in keeping this a great nation. God bless all of you!

Saturday, August 2, 2008

A Few Thoughts and Acknowledgements Before Moving On To The Pacific Theater~

As one of the daughters of Ernie Doucette, I have read and re-read over six years of research and have come to the conclusion that even though my dad says he in no way was a 'hero', he certainly was. I started this blog with a quote from "Saving Private Ryan" that being "Earn This"... my dad, my hero .. the gentle soul that raised my sister, my three brothers and myself did indeed 'earn this'... and more. He may not have received his Medal from the French Government the way he and his comrades should have back when they were 19 and 20 year old soldiers, but none the less, he had his before he passed away. My dad was a man of integrity. He was the neighborhood softball pitcher and coach. He built snow forts with us after a hard day's work. He gave us a set of values on which to build our own lives ... God, family and country. He walked my sister and I down the aisle on our wedding day. Never a day went by when he told us to "ask your mother"... he had the answers. And, he always had time for the five of us. He worked hard all of his life just like all those that belong to "The Greatest Generation" and never looked back. But, before his Army days were finished, he did have one more assignment, that being the Pacific Theater. Before I continue there, I would like to thank the other 'gentle souls' that walked with dad on Omaha Beach and then joined him again in the Philippines .. Sam Kornfeld, Fritz Weinshenk, Arnold Epstein and Walter Newman. They too "Earned This" ... the recognition to be called members of "The Greatest Generation".

~Mr. Tony Chapman, Historian, Archivist from England
~The National Archives in Washington, DC
~Fort Belvoir Army Archives in Maryland
~United States Army Archives in St. Louis, MO
~Office of the Chief of Military History (Army) Washington, DC (Library)
~United States Army War College, Washington, DC (1966)
~United States Army History Institute, Carisle. PA.
~Historical Data: Headquarters of the European Theater of Operations; 6Th Engineer Special
Brigade; APO 230; 293 Joint Assault Signal Company
~The United States Army Campaigns of World War II
~Dwight D. Eisenhower Library and Museum; Abilene, KS.
~"The War Department" original book written by the Department of the Army (09-12-1945)
~LCI 92 information: The United States Coast Guard, LCI Ship's Log, parts: 1, 2 & 3,
Washington, DC

~Army Achievement Medal
~Asiatic Pacific Campaign Ribbon with Bronze service arrowhead
~Distinguished Service Medal, Army
~Europe, Africa, Middle East Campaign Ribbon with Bronze Service Star
~Good Conduct Medal (which dad was most proud of)
~Philippine Liberation Ribbon with 1 Bronze Service Star
~World War II Victory Medal
~Distinguished Unit Badge (125 ETOUSA 14 Dec. 44)
~D-Day Commemorative Medal with Ribbon
~Presidential Unit Citation (War Department, General Order #41, January 12, 1945)
~Philippine Presidential Unit Citation for actions from October 17, 1944 through July 4TH, 1945
(Dept. of the Army, General Order #47 from 1950)
~French Presidential Unit Citation (293 JASCO, included together with the 149TH Engineer
Beach Battalion) Dept. of the Army, General Order #43, 1950
(all Unit Citations came from David A. Giordano, National Archives, Washington, DC)

Saturday, April 19, 2008

"A 19 Year Old's Journey To Hell and Back"

Graduating from high school at 16 was quite an accomplishment back in the 1940's, but enlisting in the Service was the goal for my dad, Ernie Doucette. Having to wait a year because he wasn't eligible to join the military, he worked as a mechanic in Reading, MA. where he and his best friend, later to be my uncle, Phillip Burbine, aka: 'Chippy Burbine' as he was called, together they registered as members of the U.S. Air Force. My father really didn't find the Air Force to be what he wanted so he transferred to the U.S. Army so he could be "where the action was" to quote him. Dad was a second generation Army man to go to France as well, my grandfather was a World War I veteran. The Army sent my father to Clemson University for a semester of Engineering classes as they saw something unique in him that would later prove be a valuable investment on Omaha Beach and again the the Pacific Theater.

Fort Devons MA. would be dad's new home for a while now. He said his good-byes to his high school sweetheart, Alice Gorman, his parents and friends, for now it was time to concentrate on the tasks ahead of him along with all the other soldiers leaving to go to a foreign country to fight for their freedom. (to be continued...)

Training In England

Dad and other engineers from all military divisions were on their way to an unspecified location in England for extensive training on "dummy" landing crafts on shore. All were taught how to embark and disembark from different LCI's. (landing craft infantry..which I will reference as LCI's from now on) The exercises, day after day.. hour after hour, proved useful in working out details as how to fit as many men and equipment into the small crafts as possible. They also had "assault training lanes" where troops could land and work their way inland overcoming a series of obstacles, using live ammunition as well as real explosives. Dad's first training experience began on Woolacombe Beach at the southern end of the beach called Saunton Sands. His Assault Training Camp (ATC) started with a soldier's individual skills revolving around their LCI's. As his training progressed, he was moved on to a small unit operations through company and battalion exercises. After he graduated from this phase of grueling four week training, he moved on to a larger scale of landing exercises at Slapton Sands. Since live ammunition was being used in these exercises, the local people were evacuated for safety reasons. His training now at Slapton Sands would help him and other soldiers to improve plans for the D-Day Invasion. Training was tough and it didn't come without casualties either. On 27 April, 1944, German E-boats attacked two LSTs (landing ship tank) and badly damaged a third. One hundred ninety Sailors and 441 Soldiers were killed, mostly from the 1st Engineer Special Brigade. This was referred to as the "Operation Tiger" disaster. And so, training resumed with the Allies now sending their bombers to strike the German E-boat squadrons, severely damaging the E-boat threat to the D-Day convoys.

Training was exhausting and rest or sleep was virtually non-existent, but dad and every soldier chosen for this task knew that the success of the long hours meant success of failure for the landing in Normandy. Between the British troops and the French farmers learning how to use pigeons as a means of carrying messages and questions for the allies to obtain answers, dad's unit continued practicing going up and down the side of a mock LCI on cargo net while they carried a full load of equipment. Once he mastered the cargo netting up and down, it was on to demolition charges and then the rifle squad. He was chosen as one of the riflemen for the 293rd JASCO Unit. Mastering all of these different tasks was no easy chore because just one mistake, one moment of memory lapse could have cost him his life as well as the lives of his fellow soldiers. There was no room for any mistakes. All equipment carried on to Omaha Beach had to be completely waterproofed as well.

Dad's training in England was drawing to an end. He and 10 of his fellow JASCO buddies were detached from their 293rd JASCO Unit and re-attached to the 149Th Engineer Combat Battalion supporting the 116Th Infantry Regiment. Their destination: Dog Green~ Training for "OPERATION OVERLORD" had been completed. Now, the waiting had become the biggest problem because of storms. And so day after day became a "wait and see" situation. Finally, 6 June, 1944, dad and others climbed the real cargo netting onto the LCI 92 and headed out to something he never dreamed could possibly happen ... disaster just waiting for them in the English Channel. What 19 year old could have ever prepared himself for his ship to become entangled in teller mines, blow up, see your buddies beside you die in front of your eyes, watch as your fellow soldiers drowned because they were trying to do what they were trained to do ... bring your equipment onto Omaha Beach. They had no training for this so it had to come down to common sense. Dad once told me that you had to think really fast to drop all of your equipment in order to get back up to the top of the water because if your didn't, you'd drown. And, that's what happened to many soldiers that morning. They forgot to save themselves. The LCI 92 never made it into "DOG GREEN". Neither did the soldiers~ they found themselves in the grips of hell instead.

This morning, 9 July, 2008, I found "The Longest Day" on TV and watched as all the ships, Higgins Boats and soldiers tried in vain to land on Omaha Beach. I kept thinking about my dad as he tried to save his own life and those around him as their LCI 92 burnt in the English Channel. At 19 years of age, it was hard for me to comprehend how he survived that morning, kept going and somehow reached the beach. He did his job, set up communications with the Air Force and Navy but only after he found himself in a horrific fight with the Germans. Little did he know that it would be combat first and then only after Omaha Beach had been secured, he would then go into 'engineer mode' with communications. I watched this movie through the eyes of one of his adult children, realizing just how blessed I was to have had him as my dad. I only saw graphic details on a television screen or "Saving Private Ryan" at the movie theater but, he was an actual participant .. a young soldier with his life on the line .. not only did it break my heart, but made me even more appreciative for the father that raised me. He had seen more in his young life than I would ever see in my entire life time. He was such a gentle person .. no one would ever have known what he endured in Normandy, France and again in the Pacific Theater. He went through hell to get back home~ He left the horror in Europe, married our mom and raised the five of us kids. We were 5 lucky kids~and ... we knew it!

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

"Quest For The Medal"

Before I begin this segment of my blog, I would like to take a moment to acknowledge four of my dad's buddies that I have found and stayed in touch with in my search for answers regarding dad's Army days. The first veteran I was introduced to was Sam Kornfeld, originally from NY and now resides in Florida. I refer to Sam as my 'adopted dad'. He is an absolutely remarkable person, caring, genuine, a true veteran, and such an incredibly important part of my life now. I treasure our friendship each and ever day. The next veteran I found along the way was Fritz Weinshenk. His story is quite unique and sad at the same time. Being of the Jewish Faith, he lost part of his family to the Germans who took it upon themselves to extinguish members of his immediate family as if they never existed. As a young boy, he moved to the United States, went to school, joined the Army, (293 JASCO), made it through D-Day and so on, went back to New York and attended City College, now known as Columbia University, where he earned his Law Degree, then went back to France as a Lawyer and took part in the Nuremberg Trials. An incredible individual, he led me to Walter Newman, also originally from New York, now in Kansas and Arnold Epstein, whom I believe still resides in New York. Without the help of these four Veterans, who are an important part of the 'Greatest Generation', I never would have been able to trace my dad's footsteps on Omaha Beach or The Pacific Theater. I thank the four of them with every fiber of my being, not only for the information and leads they have provided me but for their dedication and service to our country. Thank you to all of you~

Now~ 'Quest For The Medal' ~ After the fiasco aboard the JFK Air Craft Carrier in July of 2000, I asked my dad why they never received their medals from the French government. He really wasn't sure, but he thought it was because the 293rd JASCO was divided up into 10 to 12 men, detached from their JASCO Unit and re-attached to a larger unit, his being the 149th Engineer Combat Battalion .. in other words they "fell through the cracks" and were forgotten about. As I was preparing to leave my small town of No. Reading, MA. to return to No. Virginia, I told my dad that I was going to do what I could to first find an answer as to why they never received a medal and second do whatever it took to get him one. After all, he did 'earn it'!

Living just outside of Washington, DC does have some advantages .. the French Embassy for one! After making an appointment to talk to a member of their Veteran Affairs department, I was told that these D-Day Veterans were indeed offered a commemorative medal for the 60th anniversary in FRANCE! Stunned, I mentioned the fact that not very many of these veterans were able to travel back to France for this ceremony either for financial reasons, health reasons or, as in my dad's case, 'he had already been there...he couldn't go back again'. There were a lot of psychological reason for many as to why they could not return to Normandy, France. The cost they had paid 60 years ago had just been too much to endure and seeing the American side of the cemetery in Normandy was a traumatic reminder of how much was lost that day. After my first attempt of 3 hours or so, I was told to contact the French Consulate in Boston, MA. since that's where my father was from .. "Maybe they can be of assistance to you" I was told. Not being discouraged very easily, that's exactly where I was headed next. I called, wrote and called again only to be told that there just were no more medals to be had. Nine months had passed by this time and one evening in early April of 2001, I received a call that our dad had had a 'slight' stroke. Concerned about my dad's health, my objective had just become a top priority for me. Returning to the French Embassy in DC, I decided that "no" was just not an acceptable answer for me any more. I didn't care where they found a medal as long as one was found and properly presented to my father. As his health continued to decline, more pressure was being applied to both the French Consulate in Boston as well as the Embassy in DC. Flying back and forth to spend as much time with dad as I possibly could now, we were all told in September of 2001 that he and our mom had accepted the fact that our father was approaching the end as we all had feared. I returned to VA. again with one objective in mind .. a medal for my favorite hero but September 11th had interrupted my plans as it interrupted the entire world. I was not allowed to visit the Embassy now because of the Pentagon attack, so I called, begged, pleaded with anyone that would listen to me. Finally, I was able to plead my case again in Boston with Michael DePaulo, Special Liaison to Mr. Stephane Chemelewsky, Consul General of France. He granted dad a dispensation and sent me a commemorative medal because the Jubilee Medals were no longer available. Now waiting for Logan Airport to re-open, I had a letter, a medal from France and a medal from the Philippines which he never received either in my possession and nothing could stop me from boarding another plane back to Boston. In part of the letter written to my dad, I was referred to as "relentless" and that "no is just not an option" for for my dad, but it was noted that I always spoke for the five of us kids, not just myself. Dad was complimented by the French now not only for his actions on Omaha Beach so many years ago, but for the family he and mom had raised. "It is not within my power to place the original one in your hand because I simply do not have one. It moves me deeply and with great pride to know that your children think so very much about their father and would go to the lengths that Louise did in order to make sure that you were properly honoured. And, so you shall be Monsieur Ernest Doucette!" Mr. DePaulo wrote. With my mom, sister Ann, brothers Paul, John and Michael there, we presented dad with his long overdue medals. As the letter was being read to him, tears, not only of joy streamed down his face, but also of appreciation of what had finally been accomplished for him. His face said it all .. he was ready for his journey 'home' even if we weren't.

My favorite hero has been gone for over six years now, but his spirit, his courage and his strength remains within me in my actions, how I treat others, in the things I say and do, how I choose to 'give back' to my community as my dad did and how I can help other Military families in their time of need. He is my inspiration now as I volunteer as a member of "Soldiers Angels" for our troops in Iraq and Afghanistan but I think my biggest accomplishment is what I will have taught my three children and pass on to my grand children. If I can be assessed as a good wife, a good mom, Nana, aunt and a good friend to others and have the ability to be able to 'agree to disagree' as dad always did, then I think I will do well, but that's not up to me to decide. One day I will stand before someone else with much higher authority than I'll ever have to decide how well I've done here on earth. Of course, if I get to that point one day and do pass, I know I'll have to once again stand before dad and pass his test also! Hummmm~ that just might be the toughest test to pass. Miss and love you always dad~ Whez

Saturday, March 22, 2008

A Father's Legacy

My father "earned this"... A quote from the movie "Saving Private Ryan".

My dad, Ernest P Doucette from Reading, MA., was a D-Day Veteran, a member of the 293rd Joint Assault Signal Company, part of the Army's 6Th Special Engineer Brigade. To me and my four siblings, he was just "Dad", but as a Corporal in the Army at 19 years of age, he was an Engineer, trained to set up communications once on Omaha Beach between them and The Navy and Air Force waiting in the English Channel for word to come ashore. Besides being an Engineer, he and others in his Unit were skillfully trained as some of the top "marksmen" the Army had in case things did not work out the way it was planned. And, that is exactly what happened.

I opened this Blog with a quote from the movie "Saving Private Ryan" for a reason. Dad never was able to talk much about his Army days, but, when asked if he had seen the movie, his response was: "Yes, I took a side trip to St. Lo too. My Sgt. and friend, John Kmetz asked me to help him find his brother outside of St Lo before that Battle broke out and so we did". So, my never ending yearning to find out more had begun a 6+ year long journey of research.

Knowing that my dad went to Omaha Beach in Normandy by way of the Coast Guard, I started with a plea to them in helping me find out exactly how he got there. After sending out emails, I received a response back from a veteran in Virginia telling me that my dad had been on the "passenger" list aboard the LCI 92. (landing craft infantry) That is where I began my search. Dad and 10 other of his buddies from the 293 JASCO were indeed aboard this Landing Craft heading toward Omaha Beach 6 June, 1944 at 0700 hours. From a distance, they could see, hear and smell the smoke from their intended destination but could not see the carnage they were about to embark upon. The English Channel had not been their friend that morning as it was extremely rough from the wind and rain, making many men sick before ever stepping foot on the sands of Omaha. Nor, did they have any idea what was just ahead for them as they entered the waters that had been thickly padded by teller mines set out by the Germans in anticipation of the American arrivals. I remember dad telling one of my brothers and I about suddenly being caught up in this moment of terror. "We had two landing ramps. One was blown off by the mine fields we were caught in. A soldier not far from where I was standing had just put his flame thrower on and a German bullet hit it and everything around us exploded. The poor kid never knew what had just happened. Both ramps gone now and our ship burning, we were all forced to jump overboard. We lost quite a few soldiers because of drowning. They tried to hold onto their gear but you had to think quick and drop all of it so you could get back to the top of the water." Never knowing the Veteran part of my dad when he was 19 years of age, all of this tore a hole into the very core of me. After all, he was "just my dad" ... I never knew the Veteran side of him until now.

There were very few conversations regarding the first 24 hours he spent fighting his way on to Omaha Beach, but one thing has always stuck in my mind, that being a talk he had with my oldest brother Paul on the way back from Virginia to Massachusetts. They stopped in Maryland where they kept old tanks, planes and so on. As they walked through the open area talking about the different guns and tanks, dad made one remark to my brother. As things began to quiet down some on Omaha that fateful morning. He said: "At the end of the day, there was no place to even sit down on the Beach .. it was full of bodies being washed up on the sand, body parts and red water. I found a small place on the sand, sat down and put my hand on the sand to rest a bit. I looked down and blood was coming up through my fingers." My brother told me that after he said that, his eyes just filled with tears.

The 6 year journey of researching, took me to many different places as I gathered information from across the United States to the help of an Archivist from England. I had secured information that was confidential during that time ... landing maps, questionnaires for the 293rd JASCO Unit, casualty reports, training in England, how the Invasion was suppose to have gone and how badly it ended up being. The Coast Guards account of the Landing Crafts (Infantry) 91 and 92 that were entangled in teller mines, gave a graphic description of what these soldiers, that included my dad, endured that morning, were in my possession now. For the first time, I was reading this from the eyes as his child and I wondered how he survived at 19 years old. Knowing the trauma, the carnage he witnessed, seeing your buddies killed beside you and fighting for hour after hour, wet..cold..and tired.. how was it possible for my dad to be such a happy, carefree person? We knew him as the one who played with us in the snow, took care of us, came home from work and played "fight" with my sister and I when we were little, helped us with homework and walked me down the isle on my wedding day. Ernie the 'dad' was a kind, gentle, loving person. I was just getting to know Ernie the 'veteran'. There was this deep ache now in the pit of my stomach because I never knew the other side of 'dad'.

On a bright, sunny morning, 15 July, 2000, the JFK Air Craft Carrier had been docked in Boston, MA. for a ceremony honoring D-Day Veterans from MA. It was on this day that I found out the French Government never gave any of these 'smaller units' their medals for their efforts to free France from the iron fists of the Germans. Not only was I appalled, I was angry because of what I knew. So, that morning in July of 2000, my dad and hundreds of other thought they were finally going to received what they had "earned" so many years ago, a Medal .. but instead, they all received a Diploma of thanks! Many veterans left Boston that afternoon in anger and disgust. A local newspaper stopped my dad and asked for a short interview. He was asked how he felt about being a hero and his words were this: "People think we were heroes but we weren't. We had a job to do and we did it, If we had to do it all over again, we would". He was a humble but very proud veteran his entire life. To think that these aging veterans of D-Day stood for hours in the July heat waiting for what they had hoped for their entire military careers turned out to be a piece of paper was horrific to witness. I witnessed quite a few throwing that "Diploma"...that piece of paper, away in the closest trash cans. These members of "The Greatest Generation" had been humiliated by a piece of paper from the French Government. Where was their medal they earned? That was a question I was going to get an answer to, if for no one else, I wanted an explanation as to how a piece of paper given to these veterans, my dad, was suppose to be a substitute for a medal they earned over 60 years ago. I don't think so! I was just begining now~