Howard and Sainte-Mère-Église

This story kind of haunts me.  I change my mind about it all the time.  I try to work it out in my mind, but I can never be certain of what really happened.  So now I’ll let you think about it, too.


In late June 1998, John, Jacob and I took my Dad, then aged 81, to Normandy, France, to visit the D-Day landing beaches, museums, the works.  Dad was a WWII vet – he was in the U.S. Navy during the War, stationed on two different aircraft carriers in the Pacific.  He fought in some of the big battles in the Pacific, as a gunner on an SBD Dauntless, a seriously cool little plane.

Dad was always fascinated by the D-Day landings, and he’d always wanted to visit Normandy.  The planning, the strategy.  The very real possibility that it could have failed.  And he had lost friends there.  Two of Dad’s closest childhood friends died there, they’d gone ashore at Omaha Beach.  So when he came to visit us in Switzerland, we took a road trip.

The folks in Normandy, well, they love Americans.  We stayed in Sainte-Mère-Église at a lovely farmhouse on the outskirts of town.  The owner of the farm treated Dad like royalty, even though he told her he was fighting in the Pacific.  The trip was, my Dad said forever afterwards, one of the highlights of his life.

Now, you know what happened on D-Day.  The invasion began when the Allies sent paratroopers into some of the strategic areas slightly inland from the Normandy Beaches they would invade later on that day, on the morning of June 6th.  There were many problems with the drops of these paratroopers.  Some of the most dramatic stories came from survivors  who dropped into Ste. Mère-Église.

You see, that night, June 5/6, there was a fire in the town hall.  All the townspeople were out, along with the German occupiers, trying to put out the fire.  It spread to several nearby buildings.

Ste Mere Eglise on fire

Ste Mere Eglise on fire, June 6, 1944.  Photo credit:\archives

Into the midst of this chaos, American paratroopers fell.  Many of them were shot by German troops as they dropped, butchered.  Others were caught on trees, on buildings –including John Steele.  Steele had parachuted into the middle of town, and his parachute was caught on the church steeple.  Steele played dead for many hours, with the church bell ringing in his ear, watching many of his fellow paratroopers die.  Steele was memorably portrayed by Red Buttons in the movie The Longest Day.

There are still parachutes on many of the buildings commemorating the landings.

Things changed, the Allies won, the day/night.  Ste. Mère-Église was the first town liberated by the Allies on June 6, 1944.  D-Day.  It was a vital victory for the Allies, for the French, and for the world.

John Steele survived and returned to Ste. Mère-Église after the war.  He opened up a restaurant that became a huge draw for tourists, including us.  Our first night in town, we had reservations.  But we were early, and the restaurant wasn’t yet open.  So we went to a cafe/bar around the corner to get a drink while we waited for half an hour.

John, Dad, Jacob and I sat at a table, excitedly talking about our tour of the town.  Ste. Mère-Église is seriously cool for all ages.  There are still parachutes hanging in trees, on buildings.  It is still a real town, but it is also a memorial to the men who fought and died there, and a place that welcomes veterans with affection and gratitude.  Unlike much of France, the folks in Normandy remember.  They made us feel very welcome

So sitting there at the table having a drink, we enthusiastically recounted what we’d seen so far.  With two history buffs in the group, Jacob and I learned a lot from John and Dad.  Placards explain the events of the night so that it is easily followed.  We  chatted about the history, explaining more to Jacob.  We had seen so much already, and it was only our first night!  The next day, we would visit the beaches.  We were excited.

A man standing at the bar behind us was pretty excited too.  Quite animated, in fact.  But perhaps that was just because he had had three or four drinks too many.

“Damn, if I had it to do over again,” blared the drunk American at the bar.  He followed it up with a string of obscenities that made my Dad, the sailor, blush.  Then the drunk caught sight of me and 7-year-old Jacob.  He wandered over to us and offered us his apologies.  We politely accepted them.  But he didn’t seem to take “no problem” as an answer.  He introduced himself as Howard Something-or-other, and stood talking with us about how he had retired to Normandy.

Stupidly, I asked “What brought you to Normandy?”

“Well,” he said with a twinkle in his eye, “I happened to drop into town one night…”

“Oh, uhh, wow,” I said, looking skeptically between John and Dad.  They didn’t seem to believe the guy either.

But Howard proceeded to tell his story:

“Yup,” he said, “I dropped in here one night.  I landed in the cemetery over back by the Town Hall, which, as you know, was on fire.”

He continued:  “First, I crapped my pants,” he announced, looking straight at my 7-year-old son who was mortified.  I was pretty sure we didn’t need to hear that.

“Actually,” he said, “I really lucked out.  The cemetery had a tall stone wall around it.  And the Germans were occupied with the fire and then with the guys who were dropping into the middle of the town square.  Me, I hid behind some gravestones until I realized that, hell, a cemetery is no place to die.  So I made my way out, and linked up with my buddies.”

We didn’t believe a word of it.  For one thing, the guy looked way too young.  Remember, it was 1998, fifty-four years after the Normandy Invasion.  Looking at him, I could see Howard couldn’t then have been more than 60 or 65.  That put him in grammar school during the War.  Besides, there was just something about him.  None of us believed him.

Howard was meeting someone, and we had a dinner reservation.  So we didn’t pursue his story.

But the next day when we went to buy postcards to send back home, well, we saw something rather surprising:  A postcard of Howard Manoian.

Howard Manoian

Our Howard from the night before.  The drunk.  The faker.  The guy whose heroic WWII story we didn’t believe, and to which we only listened to a bit of, and then only out of politeness.

We felt really stupid at not having tackled the guy and listened to the rest of his story.  Peppered him with questions.  What a horrible lost opportunity.  Imagine, to hear a first-hand account of what happened that night.  June 6, 1944.

“Well,” said Dad sadly, “he was a bit of a weirdo.”

*   *   *

Fast forward to May/June 2009.  The Sixty-fifth Anniversary of the Normandy Landings.

A few days before the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day landings, John sent me an interesting email.  It was a link to a Boston Herald article that exposed “an American fraud.”

Yup, you guessed it.  Our Howard was revealed in the article to have not “dropped into” Ste. Mère-Église, after all.  The article claimed that military records stated that instead, Howard was part of the invasion force that landed at Utah Beach.

Even though I hadn’t believed him when he was standing next to me, I was really sad to read the story.  Imagine living a lie for all that time.  For sixty years.  Howard had lived, part-time, in Ste. Mère-Église for decades.  He had attended many D-Day ceremonies over those sixty-five years.  He had been telling his story, albeit often under the influence, for many, many years.

And so I was sad.  Yes, the guy had been “a bit of a weirdo” to quote Dad.  And yes, he had been rather inebriated.  But was he a fraud?  Could “Weird Howard” have been living a lie for all those years?  If so, how sad, how pitiful.  But how could that happen, I wondered, to tell this lie in a place where veterans of D-Day flock?  In a place where, I thought, sooner or later, someone would recognize him?

*   *   *

In traveling about, and especially visiting many battlefields with John, the history buff, I am often astonished at the images of what soldiers and sailors face in battle.  But I have never been anywhere like Normandy.

When you stand on the beaches, you crane your neck to look up the cliffs to  and look up at where the troops had to go, the price of what we often take for granted looms out of the ghosts.  The cliffs are high, ragged.  With no climbing skills at all, I can’t imagine trying to get to the top, much less with guns pointed and firing in my direction. And yet they did.  Many died.  Many were wounded.  Many are still there, buried at the top of the cliffs, overlooking Omaha Beach.  I felt an almost religious appreciation for the Greatest Generation‘s sacrifices.  There is no physical place that to me represents the ancient struggle of good versus evil.  It is awe-inspiring.

And really, it all started in and around Ste. Mère-Église.

*     *     *

In researching this post, I found conflicting information about Howard.  Some folks say Howard was a fraud.

Others, including the French Government believe his story.  And at the 65th Anniversary of D-Day, in 2009, the French Government awarded Howard their highest medal, the Legion of Honor for exemplary valor and service, even after the Boston Herald article “exposed him” as a fraud.

Howard in the center at the 65th Anniversary of the D-Day Landings (Google Image)

For the longest time, including when I originally wrote and posted this piece four years ago, I didn’t know what to think.

But today I find it hard to believe that anyone could live such a lie for over 60 years and not be exposed much, much earlier.  He told his story over and over, like Mr. Bojangles, for drinks and tips.  If he had gone ashore at Utah Beach, he would still qualify as a hero.  Was “dropping into” Ste Mere Eglise somehow more heroic?

The folks who fought at Normandy, who fought in Europe and in the Pacific, regardless of in what capacity, division or from which country, well, they are all heroes.  They all deserve our thanks. 

More practically, the likelihood that Howard would have run into someone who recognized him from that day was pretty high.  Folks return.  Folks remember.  I’m pretty sure at least some would have clear memories of who stood next to them on the landing craft or on a glider soaring silently above Ste. Mère-Église.  Of whom they linked up with on the ground.

So in the intervening years, I have thought about Howard quite a bit.  I wish we had heard more of his story.  I wish, at a minimum, that we had bought him a beer (although he didn’t really need another one).  I wish that Howard, who died in 2011, didn’t pass with a cloud over his head.

Howard Manoian obituary.

Stars and Stripes:  A jump from the truth


Filed under Adult Traumas, All We Are Saying Is Give Peace A Chance, Anniversary, Classic Movies, Dad, Europe, History, Huh?, Memoir writing, Mysteries, Normandy, Peace, Plagarizing myself, Rerun, Taking Care of Each Other, Travel Stories, WTF?

63 responses to “Howard and Sainte-Mère-Église

  1. Tom Wahl

    I don’t know if Howard told the truth or not, but I know that as many times as I heard some of the same stories, there was never a discrepancy in any detail.
    I know for a fact that his son Chris served in the 82nd, something I would find odd to allow a son to aspire to if your own stories were not true. I know that Chris believed him, as did Chris’s wife and three children.
    I know that late in life, when I had to push him around in a wheel chair to visit Walter Reed, he always wanted to visit any wounded Airborne troops.
    I know that when we visited the WWII Memorial, he always worked my side of the fence, as a welcoming host to those coming from across the country.
    I know he absolutely loved France.
    He was brash, and he certainly liked his drink. He was crude, but had a wicked sense of humor.
    The night he passed, I had just returned from being on the road for a couple of weeks on a motorcycle, much of it spent escorting injured veterans on a bicycle ride that covered all three of the 9/11 sites. I know I cried when his daughter-in-law Gina called me with the news.

    I don’t know if Howard told the truth, but he was beyond a doubt my friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Tom,

      That is the most beautiful testimony to a friend, and to a friendship, that I have ever read.

      I believe Howard. In the years since meeting him, and in the years since reading the Boston Herald story, I have thought a lot about him, his story, our missed opportunity to talk with him. And I believe him for so many reasons.

      The main reason, I guess is that he approached our table where my Dad was sitting. Dad was clearly of the greatest generation, he was 81. I would think that a man hiding a secret would not willingly approach another vet of that age for fear of being called out on it. But Howard shook Dad’s hand, looked him in the eye, and asked about Dad’s service. I bet he did that a thousand times to a thousand vets, including many with shared histories. He wouldn’t have done that if he was lying, I don’t think.

      It breaks my heart to think that Howard died under a cloud. And I wish we had bought him that drink that he didn’t need, too.

      And I still recall the twinkle he had in his eye.


  2. My dad was in the war also. He had an incident in the English Channel that remained classified until the 1990’s. If curious, it was the Leopoldville and the Cheshire ships. They lost 700 men on Christmas Eve on their way to the Battle of the bulge due to torpedoes. It’s a fascinating tale that wasn’t told. Too many mistakes made. Once the men could talk, there have been several books about the incident. It freed my father to finally tell us about his war experience. It finally made sense why he was so private about it all. Then his flood gates opened and he and my mom went to Fort Benning Ga to get together with other survivors. It was so healing. Thanks for sharing this story. It’s wonderful that you and he made that trip.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Oh my. I just read the story of the Leopoldville. I’d never heard of it until you mentioned it, and only now had the opportunity to look it up. What a TERRIBLE secret to keep for 50 years. To be unable to talk about it the loss, the danger, the errors. The story. My god.

      My husband is a history buff, particularly WWII. He’d never heard of it either.

      I am glad that your dad, at long last, got to talk about what happened to him.

      I read your comment on my phone right when you wrote it. I thought I’d answered you, saying I would look into your dad’s story when I had a chance. But apparently not. I’m sorry you didn’t hear from me sooner.

      Have you ever written his story, or did he? I would love to read it.

      Liked by 1 person

      • It is shocking. Thanks for taking the time to look this up. I haven’t written about it, yet. Maybe someday when I have time to research it thoroughly and get my facts straight. An interesting aside, if you google my dad’s name, it comes up with him telling his story. He was beginning to have some speach aphasia by the time UNC-Wilmington did a documentary and interviews with soldiers. My nephew ran across it while hanging out in the library at his school. When asked what he was doing, he said, I’m looking up my grandpa and behold, there it was. Lucky kid. Wesley Carl Batten, Through the Eyes of the Cape Fear is the site. Thanks again for your interest.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Hooray for your Dad and Howard. Howard was fighting in France, it’s not like he was hiding in a cellar in Italy.

    On a recent tour of Lead, Arizona there were a lot of stories about Potato Sam. (I think that was his name.) He claimed he found the biggest gold nugget in history. Pictures showed it was as big as two fists. Even though there was proof that he’d built the nugget out of smaller ones he’d mined, He hung around town for years, telling his stories, enjoying the notoriety, getting his picture taken with tourists, and having people buy him drinks.

    I’d say the world is as it should be. Howard was doing what old warriors do—tell stories. You were doing what respectful younger generations do…exercise healthy suspicion and let the elderly keep their dignity..
    Great story.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That could be another scenario for a novel about Howard. But if he was hiding in a cellar, I’d bet it was France. (That’s actually kind of like one of the stories I heard when I researched this — that he took cover for a while in the cellar of a French farmhouse so it may be, as my dad would have said, Right Church, Wrong Pew!)


  4. If it was a lie, how sad to muddy the legacy of true heroism that was being part of the landing at Utah. But I agree with your thinking. How fascinating!

    Normandy is on my bucket list.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Normandy was one of my most favorite trips. We actually went twice, including once before this trip. Truly an amazing combination of history and natural beauty. There are still bunkers there that you can enter (Jacob had a blast).

      As for Howard, I will always wonder about the truth. A sad story no matter the truth.


  5. Perhaps, Howard didn’t want to tell his own ‘true’ story. That story was horrific and terrible, bloody and violent. He would have been very young. Yet still, he needed to tell he was there, he was part of the whole. Maybe that is all he wanted, to be acknowledged as having been part of something great.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Isn’t it amazing how ripe his story — what we know or don’t know about it — is for imagining what really might have happened? That’s what I find so fascinating about it!

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Something (I don’t know what) tells me that Howard is the real deal. He believed in what he was saying. Why make up a story like that and stick around to tell it for so long? If it’s not true, who is he hurting? If it is true, what a story. And I agree with him, cemeteries are no place to die!

    Liked by 1 person

  7. It’s interesting to me, skimming down the comments here (and thinking about all the reactions I’ve seen to other forms of people’s self-narratives), how much of our own histories play out in what we hear, what we doubt, what we believe. What we think matters.

    My own experiences, for instance, lead to me wonder about what needs and injuries Howard tended to, in his tellings and retellings. Whether he parachuted into this town or not, spending the rest of his life living there — telling strangers about D-Day — would be considered an unusual choice. Some trauma he cannot put down, some moment he cannot let go of reliving.

    And if he landed at Utah Beach, on that terrible, terrifying, bloody day — or through any other route of the invasion — and still wound up where he did, saying what he said? My thoughts go to the same place: some trauma he cannot put down, some moment of guilt or anguish he cannot let go of reliving.

    Thank you for this reflective moment today.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I keep looking at the last line in your first paragraph: “What we think matters.” It can be read both ways: What we THINK matters and What we think MATTERS. Both are true, too.

      One thing about Howard is that he didn’t stay in Ste Mere Eglise te whole time. He went home to MA and raised a family. He worked as a prison guard. He retired, part time, to SME. So he didn’t just stop there at the end of the war.

      There’s no telling what really happened. He wasn’t convincing when I met him. Was that because he was drunk or because he was dishonest? Does what I think about that MATTER? 😉 Probably not.

      I just THINK he was a sad character, regardless of his history, and where he was on D-Day. Either he was honest and dubbed a fraud, or he was a fraud and felt the need to fabricate for some reason we’ll also never know. I THINK either is sad.

      Thanks for your insightful comment. I love it when folks make me think!

      Liked by 1 person

  8. I knew about this… planning on putting it in my ‘weird war facts’ book someday… good post!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Great post, Elyse. Your own navel contemplations aside, I choose to see Howard as a hero in the same way your dad was. Your dad probably had a healthier dose of 20/20 vision for all of it, but these are still men (and many women too) who sacrificed to help rid the world of certain evils. If a handful like Howard exaggerate a bit, it doesn’t take away from their valor and service. Hats to Howard; and your dad too.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I really do keep in mind the stakes that were at issue in WWII.

      I honestly don’t know whether Howard was a paratrooper or not. I didn’t believe him when I was able to look into his (bloodshot) eyes, but I don’t know the real story. I never will. I’m not sure anybody left alive does.

      What little he told us just mentioned his fears. He didn’t claim any heroics, but he might have if we had chatted him up. Who knows.


  10. I visited Normandy 15 years ago. Powerful trip. One of my favorites.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. I think, perhaps, that Howard had a severe case of PTSD that he probably self-medicated with alcohol. Who knows for sure whether the Boston Globe article was accurate – although the paper does have a reputation for well-researched journalism. It feels like, no matter whether it was Utah beach or Sainte-Mere-Elise, he had a hard time moving on.

    In my personal experience knowing several Vietnam combat vets (including my husband), the last thing they really want to do is talk about the war. I know, it was a different war than WWII, but most folks don’t take up residence in the town of possibly their greatest trauma and tell everyone who will listen about their experience. Maybe your Dad picked up the “weirdo” piece because poor Howard was stuck and never got beyond the war.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Kathy, the stars are aligned against me. Twice tonight I’ve responded to your comment. I keep losing my comment!
      So, first the expose was in the Boston HERALD not the Globe. I would be far more convinced that my initial feelings had been right.
      My dad never told us his battle stories when we were growing up. He’d tell us funny stories of shore leave. That changed, though, when he met my husband. Then Dad opened up and he never stopped telling his stories.

      Howard probably never did get over his war. He apparently spent part time in Ste Mere Eglise, and part time in Massachusetts when he got older, and retired there. I can’t guess at his motivation. Except that you’re right that he never got beyond the war. But does that tell us whether he dropped in? IDK.

      Liked by 1 person

  12. Great story, Elyse. As I was reading it, I was wondering if you’ve read All the Light We Cannot See yet? I think you’d enjoy it if you haven’t.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. My parents are expats in northwestern France now, and even though they’re CLEARLY not WWII vets, they get random people thanking them all the time for “saving” France. They have a bit of a celebrity status in their small town. It’s bananas. But they absolutely love hearing the stories of the folks who were there at the time.
    Great post, friend.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Beka. It’s a wonderful part of France, isn’t it. Beautiful with friendly people. I hope you get to visit often!

      I forgot to welcome you when you made your first comment on my blog. So sorry! It’s nice to have you here, and I’m looking forward to getting to know you. You seem nutty in just the right way!

      Liked by 1 person

  14. “Hero” is a mushy noun. One of our local TV stations has a regular spot in which they honor “our local heroes”, which turns out to be anyone who ever served in the military and got an honorable discharge. Heroes? Not in my book. People join the military for all kinds of reasons but in my experience, adventure and training are much more common than patriotism.

    The truth is that it is only a minority who comprise the actual fighting front, and that was true even in 1944. This link exposes some of the myths about combat back then, including that only 27% of army men actually saw combat. (Click “continue” to see each panel.) Today, I’ sure, the percentage is much, much smaller.

    Supply and logistics, Howard’s role, is a vital part of war fighting. But does that make him a hero? Personally, I don’t think so, but then again, he’s head and shoulders above a draft-evader (about 5% of those drafted). Heroism is a continuum and must be judged subjectively. He who lies about his service, in my opinion, is no hero.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hero is a mushy noun, and I agree on the weekly heros BS. Mostly, it is people doing their jobs.

      I have a soft spot for WWII, though. Possibly because my dad fought, but partly because so much was at stake. And folks did what they had to do.

      Visiting Normandy was an amazing experience.

      The thing about Howard is that I don’t know if he did lie. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honor — 60 years later. I can’t imagine that they did that without researching him because people do lie about their service. Would he stay there, where he was bound to be seen by other soldiers returning? I just don’t know.


      • The military does try very hard to be correct in awarding medals, Elyse, but politics have been known to skew the process, and sometimes these things take on a momentum of their own. An example of that was Pat Tillman, the ex-football player who was mistakenly awarded the Silver Star. He was actually killed by friendly fire. He was a brave and patriotic man but he did not deserve that medal. Another example is that Lcdr. Lyndon Johnson, who served as a PR guy in WW II, got a Silver Star for merely riding in a transport plane through an area known to be frequented by Japanese zeros.

        I mean to take nothing away from your dad, of course. He was on the brave cutting edge of combat. But I doubt very much that professional journalists would have charged Howard with lying without thoroughly checking their facts.


        • Jim, I will agree with you on military stuff, but journalists are ALWAYS printing stuff without fact checking. As said to Cathy, the “expose” was in the Boston HERALD which is a bit of a rag. If it had come out in another paper, well, I might have a bit more confidence in it. That being said, it might well be true. Neither of us knows the actual truth.

          I agree that the award of the Silver Star for Pat Tillman was unwarranted. It was part of a Bush/Cheney coverup, because they didn’t want to admit he was killed by friendly fire. They used it as propaganda. (I don’t know the story of the other medal winner, I won’t comment on him)

          The Legion of Honor medal that was awarded to Howard was 65 years later (I said 60 earlier, and I was mistaken). Was there a propaganda reason to do it at that point? I don’t know. Maybe simply that he was alive and kicking 65 years later. Not a compelling one, I’d guess. But still, a warm body.

          I honestly don’t know what Howard’s role was. But given that he had been hanging out in Ste Mere Eglise for years, I would guess that somebody would recognize him if, for example, they were on a boat landing at Utah Beach rather than dropping in. I feel like the fraud would have been exposed earlier.

          Overall, I think it is a sad story. Mr. Bojangles, drunk and mourning not his dog, but his lost youth.

          One last thing. Howard did not pretend to have been a hero. According to what he told us, he was a scared man, who dropped into a lucky spot, shat his pants and tried to join his friends. There was no mention of heroic deeds. Of course, we didn’t talk with him for too long …

          That’s what I like about this story. It’s the Lady or the Tiger. You just don’t know what the real story is, or what will come out of that door.


  15. Many of us embellish our role in a success especially if we aren’t happy with how we initially handled it. You see it in business every day. He was there. For that I commend him. He survived. For that I commend him. He deserved the recognition he got whether we came in on a charter cruise or was dropped by a pelican. Sure hope he got some clean pants.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It would be very hard to sneak up on the enemy with poopy pants. But I’m guessing most of the soldiers had them. It was all the rage.


  16. I don’t know whether to believe it either, Elyse, but it is a great story nonetheless. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks, Joan. I agree. I will never know the truth, but it is a fascinating way to try to get inside someone’s head. where were you, Howard?????


  17. So interesting – the way people live with themselves. There’s a good story there. I tend to think perhaps Howard had been at Utah beach but didn’t feel that he acted very heroically. Perhaps he ran from some of the worst of it. So he cast himself in a better role. We all do that sometimes.

    Liked by 2 people

  18. I wonder how many “Howards” stuck around there after the war, telling their story, whether true or not. Either way, a colorful character, one of that “Greatest Generation” and there are so few left. We just spent the weekend with WWII aircraft flying low over our house. Mid Atlantic Air Museum sponsors the weekend re-enactment event every year around D Day. When I first became aware, there were 30-40 vets who gathered at the hotel where I worked. Each year, there were fewer and fewer. They shared their experience, and it was wonderful to hear. 💖 So cool that you took your father there.

    Liked by 1 person

    • It was a wonderful trip with my dad. I’ll never forget it.

      From what I’ve read, Howard, like most vets, returned home, got a job (as a prison guard) and lived his life. He returned to Normandy later in life and lived there part time in his later years. But who knows what his real story was. Hard to believe that there is something in between landing in Ste Mere Eglise and not landing there!

      I LOVE those reenactments. We haven’t been to one in years. Lucky you!

      Liked by 1 person

  19. Very strange. Thank you for sharing. If Howard landed at Utah Beach, he was still part of some amazing history and still heroic. I wonder why he changed his story–wrestling with demons or did he simply love Sainte Mère-Eglise? (And why did he look so young?)
    I’m glad you got to go on this trip with your father.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was a great trip; I treasure the memories.

      As for Howard, I don’t know. Did he change it? I think it odd that the charges against him came it so late, after so many had already died. But who knows!

      Liked by 1 person

      • I don’t know what the truth is in this case. But I always find it interesting that people in general want proof when they hear the truth, but will swallow a lie at first meeting. Especially when the lie says that someone else has been lying. As much as we love our heroes, we love to tear them down even more…

        Liked by 1 person

        • Good point. Mostly, I’ve decided to believe Howard. It doesn’t hurt me to do so! Of course it would have been more interesting if I had believed him at the time!

          Liked by 2 people

  20. It’s difficult to decipher. In whatever capacity he served, he is a hero.

    Liked by 1 person

  21. Paul

    Very unusual story Elyse. That was wonderful that your Dad and son got to visit Normandy. Who knows about Howard – even if he was lying, he did nothing to detract from the narrative at Normandy. In some historical tourist destinations, the town actually hires actors to portray the historical characters to bring the story to life (mind you they do usually declare that). As long as Howard was true to the story then let bygones be bygones.

    Wonderful trip. It must have been so exciting.

    Liked by 2 people

    • It was a wonderful trip, Paul. Dad had never been outside the country, except during the war. Then, as he said, he never set foot on land, so … Just seeing his eyes as he looked over the beaches …

      What an interesting thought about the actors. I don’t know the real story of Howard or where he spent 6/6/44. I think the whole thing is sad. Either he was there and doubted, or he wasn’t and felt he had to fabricate. Either way, it’s a sad story.

      Liked by 1 person

    • Paul, I just read a cool, cool article you’ll be interested in about new technology for dialysis. It’s early yet, but perhaps it won’t be too long!:
      Wearable artificial kidney offers hope for dialysis patients

      (Reuters Health) – An experimental wearable artificial kidney shows promise as a substitute for dialysis machines, researchers report.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Paul

        Very interesting Elyse. They didn’t show any pictures or give weight or dimensions. I do clot circuits and have to run 400 ml/hr saline (200 per port) to keep the circuit clot free. And that is with a typically (and deliberately) depressed hemoglobin (90-110). They ran an ACT test to determine how much heparin would be required to stop clotting and came up with a ridiculous number – 3500 units per hour – which they then tried until I started vomiting blood. Back to the saline – which bumps my fluid removal up another 1.6 liters.

        I’m sure they will beat the technical problems delineated in the article, I just wonder about access. That is always the big issue in dialysis. When I first started I had a tunnel catheter that accessed my jugular. This is a dangerous set up for infection. Every time I sneezed,the nurses would jump on me and start blood cultures – and getting it wet was a major no-no (which meant no showers for a year while I had it). Also, the plastic extended into the jugular and the body inevitably objects by covering the catheter with fibrin. This means treatment with tPA sometimes for four hours before starting dialysis. Also, these catheters occasionally fall out – leaving a hole that looks into the jugular – not good thing.

        I then got a fistula. The first and second fistulas both closed up on their own. The third took but it was very difficult to needle. I’ve seen my self get 9 freezing needles and 9 large bore dialysis needles and one blood work needle (19 needles) in a period of 1.5 hours in a 2 1/2 inch length of arm – and not get one of them into the fistula and have to go home without dialysis. The pain was excruciating. the fistula is about 5 years old now and is much more mature. Still, it is a living thing and it has bad days same same and you and me. About 20% of the time, at least one needle misses or creates a haematoma and 5% of the time I have to go home without dialysis because they can’t get a needle into the fistula.

        Anyway, my big questions would be about the access. The machinery and such can be improved, it’s the human end that will be the hard part. They must be using a very different tech for the filtering as the current system uses ungodly amounts of water – those doing home dialysis get water bills in the thousands of dollars (the city subsidizes it for home dialysis). A nurse once accidentally hit the back of my dialysis machine with a stretcher and broke a water line.We had 2 inches of water all over the unit before they got it stopped.

        Thanks for the link Elyse – it sounds hopeful.

        Liked by 1 person

        • The human end is always the catch, you’re right. I just find these advances hopeful.

          I have fistulas, too. Annoying damn things.

          Liked by 1 person

          • Paul

            Yeah, I have a radiation fistula that is not good but the dialysis fistula was put there deliberately as a side vessel just for needling – that way they don’t damage the original veins.

            Liked by 1 person

  22. What an amazing story. I’ll bet that after 60 years of telling it, the one person who most believed it was true was Howard.

    Liked by 2 people

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