Dad never went back to Normandy, Italy, and definitely, not the North Sea where he was horribly seasick. At 17 he had enlisted in the Navy. He said one of the last things he remembered after enlisting was seeing the “What Trenton Makes, the World Takes,” sign on a bridge in Trenton, New Jersey.
I cannot comprehend
Dad was only 17 when he was in WWII. I was the youngest of five, and I knew my father after years had mellowed him. I only heard the happy stories about the war – buddies, boxing, playing craps, skinny dipping in the Bay of Naples, and food! I knew Dad loved raisin pie, which seemed to have been a Navy staple, but always spoke to me more about how hungry he was during the Depression.
Tin Can Fleet
Dad said his Destroyer was the Frankford, but everyone called it the ‘hot dog.’ He said the Destroyers made up a "tin can fleet." He never talked much about Omaha Beach until he was in his 80s, and then he began telling darker stories.
The Frankford was scraping bottom on Omaha Beach. There was no turning back for anyone – not that anyone would. He could see soldiers like ants crossing the beach, being shot down. It was pure horror. It was burned in his mind. He said he could still see it so vividly. He had a job, to keep firing at a church steeple where there was a sniper.
One man made it up the cliff
The others followed, the soldiers began advancing. He saw the soldiers lying dead, and he saw the soldiers break through. The Destroyers were there giving cover. Firing.
I’m stuck on projects and making little progress. I was trying to think what could I write about financial planning, but I was preoccupied. My mind kept drifting back to the importance of today. How a 17 year old could be in a war. How my father endured watching the most terrible thing I can imagine…war.
I would like to share
Before my father died, he was interviewed by a local paper. Today I read the article again. It made me wonder about the Frankford. So thanks to Google, I found a history. When I read one of the last paragraphs, I admit, that I am teary eyed and overwhelmed by the courage my father showed when he was only a boy of 17.
Here’s what the history said
Late in the morning Knight saw a destroyer come into the shallows behind him and fire over his head at the German strong points. Soon he and the others were able to leave the beach and move inland. He remembers the ship as Frankford, and suggested that someone research the facts and see if Frankford, by herself, might have turned the tide of the Omaha landing — and, possibly, the whole Normandy invasion. (Knight, 124-26)
Thank you, dad, and thank you to all of the brave vets who do the impossible defending our values, humanity, and nation.