Tag Archives: WWII

Historic 48-star US flag that was first on Utah Beach on D-Day is up for auction

I really hope whoever ends up with this flag will donate it to a museum. What a great piece of history!

AFP/Getty Image

AFP/Getty Image

From Daily Mail: A rare American flag that was carried by US troops on the historic D-Day invasion During World War II is set to be auctioned off.  The 48-star flag has been kept by the captain of the boat for decades that led the first troops on to Utah Beach on June 6, 1944.

‘This flag is easily one of the most significant artifact of the D-Day invasion that exists in private hands,’ said Marsha Dixey, a Historical expert and Consignment Director at Heritage Auctions.

‘We all know the harrowing story of those chaotic dawn hours as America made its push onto the beaches of Normandy.  The fact of its survival is nothing less than a testament to the irresistible force of the American will.

The torn and tattered flag that is replete with a bullet hole from a German machine gun is expected to fetch as much as $100,000 in the auction.

According to Heritage Auctions, the 30 feet by 57 feet banner is the ‘sole war souvenir of US Navy Lieutenant Howard Van Der Beek’ when it was flown from the stern of Landing Craft Control 60.

After the war, he went on to become an English professor and wrote about the moments before they charged the beach in his memoir of his war experiences titled Aboard the LCC 60: Normandy and Southern France, 1944. ‘At some point I looked astern and saw what lay at sea behind us: the greatest armada the world had ever known, the greatest it would ever know,’ he wrote in the book.

Getty Image

AFP/Getty Image

‘I must have been overwhelmed by the sight as I clung to the rail for a moment to take in the magnitude of that assembled fleet, many great, gray ships majestically poised in their positions; larger numbers of unwieldy landing vessels heaved by the heavy sea; and countless numbers of smaller amphibious craft tossed mercilessly by the waves.’

According to Heritage Auctions, American flags that have been involved in battles have long occupied the ‘upper strata of military collectibles.’  Nearly a decade ago, flags that belonged to JEB Stuart and George Armstrong Custer fetched $956,000 and $896,000 respectively.

The 48-star US flag is set to go on auction Jun 12 in Dallas, Texas.


World War II Lovebirds Celebrate 70th Wedding Anniversary: ‘They’ve Stuck Together Through Thick and Thin’

Conway's wedding portrait/Photo courtesy of Eileen Kotarski

Conway’s wedding portrait/Photo courtesy of Eileen Kotarski

From People Magazine: Their love story spans decades. Seventy years ago, Francis Conway, then 24, proposed to Marcella McAllister, then 23, in a letter from overseas – the Army soldier was stationed in Japan during World War II and “couldn’t wait” until he got home. The couple, who married on January 5, 1946, celebrated their 70th anniversary in Batavia, New York, on January 2 in a ceremony put on by their children.

“They are as in love as they were when they first got married,” Francis, 94, and Marcella’s eldest daughter, Eileen Kotarski, 69, tells PEOPLE. “You can tell by the way they look at each other and the way she smiles at him.”

Kotarski says there were 80 family members in attendance for the heartwarming anniversary celebration, including seven of Marcella, 93, and Francis’s nine children, 20 grandchildren, 36 great-grandchildren and five great-great grandchildren.

Kotarski says her mother and father, both in wheelchairs, still love teasing each other.

Photo courtesy of Eileen Kortaski

Photo courtesy of Eileen Kortaski

“We asked mom and dad if they knew why we were celebrating and my mom said, ‘An anniversary!’ and then dad winked at her and goes ‘Whose?’ ” Kotarski says with a laugh. “It’s adorable, you can tell they are still so happy with each other.”

The longtime lovebirds reside in the New York State Veterans Home in Batavia and are “completely happy and content with each other.” “They’ve stuck together through thick and thin,” their daughter says. “And they always will.”


Monday funnies!


A Hero to Remember: A tribute to Bill Mauldin

A 90-year-old WWII vet at the retirement center where I work shared this with me. I must admit, I had never heard of Bill Mauldin before. From Wikipedia:

William Henry “Bill” Mauldin (October 29, 1921 – January 22, 2003) was an American editorial cartoonist who won two Pulitzer Prizes for his work. He was most famous for his World War II cartoons depicting American soldiers, as represented by the archetypal characters Willie and Joe, two weary and bedraggled infantry troopers who stoically endure the difficulties and dangers of duty in the field. These cartoons were widely published and distributed in the American army, abroad and in the United States.

Bill Mauldin

Bill Mauldin

Here’s the story the vet shared with me.

He meant so much to the millions of Americans who fought in World War II, and to those who had waited for them to come home. He was a kid cartoonist for Stars and Stripes, the military newspaper; Mauldin’s drawings of his muddy, exhausted, whisker-stubble infantrymen Willie and Joe were the voice of truth about what it was like on the front lines.


Mauldin was an enlisted man, just like the soldiers for whom he drew; his gripes were their gripes, his laughs their laughs, his heartaches their heartaches. He was one of them. They loved him.


He never held back. Sometimes, when his cartoons cut too close for comfort, superior officers tried to tone him down. In one memorable incident, he enraged Gen. George S. Patton, who informed Mauldin he wanted the pointed cartoons celebrating the fighting men, lampooning the high-ranking officers to stop. Now!

The news passed from soldier to soldier. How was Sgt. Bill Mauldin going to stand up to Gen. Patton? It seemed impossible.

Not quite. Mauldin, it turned out, had an ardent fan: Five-star Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, SCAFE, Supreme Commander of the Allied Forces in Europe. Ike put out the word: “Mauldin draws what Mauldin wants.”

Mauldin won. Patton lost.


If, in your line of work, you’ve ever considered yourself a young hotshot, or if you’ve ever known anyone who has felt that way about him or herself, the story of Mauldin’s young manhood will humble you. Here is what, by the time he was 23 years old, Mauldin had accomplished: He won the Pulitzer Prize & was on the cover of Time magazine. His book “Up Front” was the No. 1 best-seller in the United States.

All of that at 23. Yet, when he returned to civilian life and grew older, he never lost that boyish Mauldin grin, never outgrew his excitement about doing his job, never big-shotted or high-hatted the people with whom he worked every day.

I was lucky enough to be one of them. Mauldin roamed the hallways of the Chicago Sun-Times in the late 1960s and early 1970s with no more officiousness or air of haughtiness than if he was a copyboy. That impish look on his face remained.


He had achieved so much. He won a second Pulitzer Prize, and he should have won a third for what may be the single greatest editorial cartoon in the history of the craft: his deadline rendering, on the day President John F. Kennedy was assassinated, of the statue at the Lincoln Memorial, slumped in grief, its head cradled in its hands. But he never acted as if he was better than the people he met. He was still Mauldin, the enlisted man.

During the late summer of 2002, as Mauldin lay in that California nursing home, some of the old World War II infantry guys caught wind of it. They didn’t want Mauldin to go out that way. They thought he should know he was still their hero.

Gordon Dillow, a columnist for the Orange County Register, put out the call in Southern California for people in the area to send their best wishes to Mauldin. I joined Dillow in the effort, helping to spread the appeal nationally, so Bill would not feel so alone. Soon, more than 10,000 cards and letters had arrived at Mauldin’s bedside.

Better than that, old soldiers began to show up just to sit with Mauldin, to let him know that they were there for him, as he, so long ago, had been there for them. So many volunteered to visit Bill that there was a waiting list. Here is how Todd DePastino, in the first paragraph of his wonderful biography of Mauldin, described it:

“Almost every day in the summer and fall of 2002, they came to Park Superior nursing home in Newport Beach, California, to honor Army Sergeant, Technician Third Grade, Bill Mauldin. They came bearing relics of their youth: medals, insignia, photographs, and carefully folded newspaper clippings. Some wore old garrison caps. Others arrived resplendent in uniforms over a half century old. Almost all of them wept as they filed down the corridor like pilgrims fulfilling some long-neglected obligation.

One of the veterans explained to me why it was so important: “You would have to be part of a combat infantry unit to appreciate what moments of relief Bill gave us. You had to be reading a soaking wet Stars and Stripes in a water-filled foxhole and then see one of his cartoons.


Mauldin is buried in Arlington National Cemetery. Last month, the kid cartoonist made it onto a first-class postage stamp. It’s an honor that most generals and admirals never receive.

What Mauldin would have loved most, I believe, is the sight of the two guys who keep him company on that stamp. Take a look at it. There’s Willie. There’s Joe. And there, to the side, drawing them and smiling that shy, quietly observant smile, is Mauldin himself. With his buddies, right where he belongs. Forever.

mauldin stamp

What a story, and a fitting tribute to a man and to a time that few of us can still remember. But I say to you youngsters, you must most seriously learn of, and remember with respect, the sufferings and sacrifices of your fathers, grandfathers and great grandfathers in times you cannot ever imagine today with all you have. But the only reason you are free to have it all is because of them! 


On This Day in 1941

The following is an adaptation of a previous post concerning the tragic events that took place on December 07, 1941. The video at bottom is a new addition:

President Roosevelt’s speech to the nation:

Seventy-one years ago today, America saw a great evil and, in near unison, rose up and removed that evil’s shadow from the face of the Earth.

That was nearly a lifetime ago, and this was a very different America.

We shall never see the likes of that America again.


Just One Minute


During WWII, an adviser to British Prime Minister Winston Churchill organized a group of people who dropped what they were doing every night at a prescribed hour for one minute to collectively pray for the safety of England, its people, and peace.

We all know how that horrible war ended!

There is now a group of people organizing the same thing here in America.

Each evening at 9:00 PM Eastern Time (8:00 PM Central, 7:00 PM Mountain, 6:00 PM Pacific), stop whatever you are doing and spend one minute praying for the up-coming election, and for the revival of Christianity in our beloved America.

If you know anyone who would like to participate, please pass this along.

Someone said if people really understood the full extent of the power we have available through prayer, we might be speechless. Our prayers are the most powerful asset we have.


Just one minute of prayer every evening!

Thank You.


June 06, 1944

Sixty-eight years ago today, the largest amphibious invasion force the world has ever seen assaulted Adolf Hitler’s version of Fortress Europe. The first allied boots that actually landed on French soil hit the ground many agonizing hours before the waiting Germans even saw the first inkling of the masses of landing and assault craft coming at them over the Channel horizon.

By the end of the day, approximately 5,500 Allied soldiers, including around 2,500 Americans, would be dead. Five American soldiers would be in line for a Congressional Medal of Honor, one of which was the son of a former president and the highest ranking American soldier to land on the beaches of Normandy on that historic day.

By midnight, the German beach defenses had been breached, the Allies were moving swiftly inland, the Soviet Red Army was driving on Germany from the east, and Hitler’s vaunted Thousand Year Reich had just under eleven months remaining.

Cornelius Ryan, in his excellent written account of D-Day, named it The Longest Day. For those who participated in it on either side, it most assuredly was.

An excellent video concerning D-Day:

From the German perspective:

Eisenhower’s pre-invasion speech to the troops:

FDR’s D-Day address to the nation:

Note: The above is an updated adaptation of a post I put together three years ago.