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Each year the blog takes on a different focus. In 2019 the goal is for each post to bring you the reader a lesson, quote, message, or story that can help you grow.
Today marks the 75th Anniversary of D-Day. On June 6, 1944, nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of coast in Normandy, France, to fight Nazi Germany.
One of the interesting things about D-Day is that the D does not stand for anything. Most people, me included presume that it meant DEPARTURE or decision day.
The number of veterans that participated in D-Day is dwindling day by day.
One of those military veterans who is no longer with us is my late father-in-law James Allen Gibson.
His nickname was Jimmy A. He served in the US Army Air Force from May 4, 1943 to March 5, 1946.
After WWII he had a distinguished career for the John Blue Company. Most of his career was in his hometown of Laurel Hill NC but he did spend time in Alabama. In fact my wife Mira graduated from Grissom HS in Huntsville AL.
He retired from John Blue and left Huntsville AL to move back to Laurinburg NC to became a farmer. He also was a skilled politician having been elected multiple times as a County Commissioner in Scotland County (NC). He served as chairman of that board.
My father-in-law was typical of the “Greatest Generation” in that he did not talk about his military career. About 15 years ago the then husband of a great friend of ours Angela Weston researched his military career. He was part of D-Day.
Jimmy flew with the 546th Bombardment Squadron of the 384th Bombardment Group (Heavy). He was 22 years old earning $275 a month risking his life as a pilot of a B-17 Flying Fortress. He arrived in Grafton Underwood, Northhamptonshire, England in early 1944. On May 24, 1944 he flew his first combat mission over Berlin, Germany. He was only with this unit for two months but flew 32 combat sorties. That averages out to about one every other day.
On D-Day June 6, 1944 Lt. James A. Gibson flew a bombing mission over Caen, France in direct support of the invasion. He followed these up with bombing missions on June 7th, 8th, 13th, 14th, 18th, and twice on June 19th.
He flew his last and 32nd mission over Merseburg, Germany on July 28, 1944.
He returned to the US after that mission. He left the US Army Air Force on March 5, 1946 decorated with a few medals and the rank of Captain.
My father-in-law returned to the US got married raised three children and became known as DaddyPop to a number of grandchildren. D-Day was a pivotal part of world history and he and many others were part of it.