An American war hero who spent six years as a prisoner in the infamous Hanoi Hilton in Vietnam is calling for Americans to honor those who made D-Day a success on the 70th anniversary of the invasion that launched the liberation of a continent, leading to Allied victory in World War II.
“D-Day is a day that all Americans should remember and be grateful for the sacrifices of our men and women,” said Capt. Eugene “Red” McDaniel, whose remarkable story is told in his book, “Scars & Stripes.”
It was June 6, 1944, when American and Allied forces landed on Normandy’s beaches. In the largest seaborne invasion in history, they confronted the fortifications that Adolf Hitler’s Field Marshal Erin Rommel had prepared to repel them.
A huge aerial and naval bombardment was followed by the landing of 24,000 airborne troops, who were followed by amphibious landings.
The Allied forces on the ground faced metal barriers, barbed wire, wooden stakes, mines, high cliffs, gun emplacements and other obstacles.
It was costly in lives, with more than 9,000 troops killed, but it gave the Allies the foothold they needed to defeat Hitler.
McDaniel spent six years as a POW in Vietnam after his airplane was shot down over enemy territory.
His captors used barbaric and sadistic torture techniques, even as he remained a source of hope and strength for fellow POWs through the inspiration of his faith in God.
He said dates such as D-Day need recognition. But Americans need to remember veterans more than just on occasional dates.
“My advice to Americans is that they should thank our military and support them every day,” he said. “We pray that it will never have to happen again in order to defend our freedom.”
Gen. Patrick Henry Brady, a Medal of Honor recipient who led the 54th Medical Detachment as it rescued more than 21,000 wounded during the war in Viet Nam, said, “I believe that the World War II folks set the standard for the prosperity and freedom we enjoy today – also the standard for the toughness and honor necessary [to] ensure that prosperity and freedom.”
Brady, whose story is told in “Dead Men Flying,” continued, “To see how soft, wimpy and dishonorable we have become we need only compare leaders, military and others, to those of the greatest generation.
“Show me a general today equal to Patton or Eisenhower, or any leader to match Marshall. Can you imagine any one of that generation leaving a Marine to rot in a Mexican jail or making a trade that turns lose killers as lethal as our president has set free to kill innocents.”