Remembering those who gave all on the 70th Anniversary of D-Day, Dutch veterans pay their respects. On, the 6th of June, 2014, these Dutch veterans made a special trip to the Normandy American Cemetery to place a white rose, on the behalf of The Citadel Memorial Europe, at the six graves and one name on the Wall of the Missing of the Citadel men there. The day after, one of the group stated, “We did it with great honor and respect. Yesterday, we had a great day.”
My favorite story resulting from the work of The Citadel Memorial Europe over the past five years took place back in June 2014. Probably it is my favorite because it is a tale of action, simple in execution but not without risk, and it is a perfect example of the remarkable character of the Dutch veterans I have come to know and respect.
Three years ago, the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings at Normandy was commemorated with great anticipation and celebration. The preparations by the French people took years. The leaders of the WWII allies were present, the news coverage was complete, and the invasion of veterans, politicians, and celebrants overwhelming.
For me, the story began a year before when chatting with a Dutch friend of mine, Job Kosterman, I learned that he and a group of his mates, all Dutch military veterans, were planning a trip to Normandy for the 70th anniversary. (more…)
by Steven V. Smith, ’84 – Chair, CAA History Committee
This article originally appeared in the Alumni News of The Citadel – Summer 2014. It is reprinted here in its entirety with the permission of the Citadel Alumni Association.
The observance of the 70th anniversary of the D Day landings in Normandy poignantly reminds us that those young men who embarked upon that great crusade and were fortunate enough to have survived are in their eighties and nineties now. Even as this article was written, The Citadel’s most decorated veteran of WWII, Colonel Theodore S. “Ted” Bell, class of ’42, recipient of the Distinguished Service Cross, the Silver Star, and two Bronze Stars, who fought with the 77th Infantry Division in the Pacific, passed away at the age of 93. We are fast approaching that point in time when memory will forever pass into history. It is incumbent upon we who are the recipients of the fruits of their sacrifice to take a few minutes to remember the exploits those who were there.
Of course, the exploits of Major Thomas D. Howie, class of 1929, “The Major of St. Lo”, commanding officer of 3/116th Infantry Regiment of the 29th Infantry Division seventy years ago are, or at least should be familiar to alumni. Howie, serving as operations officer or S3 for the 116th Infantry Regiment landed with the third wave on OMAHA Beach at H+70, June 6, 1944. Five weeks later on July 17 during the operation to liberate St. Lo and four days after taking command of 3/116, he would lose his life in that attack on Martinsville ridge; an action for which he was awarded the Silver Star. His home town of Abbeville, South Carolina, St. Lo, France, and The Citadel all have memorials to his memory, “Dead in France, Deathless in Fame” his grave in the Normandy American Cemetery is one of the most visited in the cemetery. There are other alumni who are less well known or even remembered. What follows are a few of those stories.
Major Howie was not the first Citadel alumnus to land at OMAHA Beach. That distinction goes to Private First Class Thompson Gallety Dicks, class of 1944, assigned to A Company, 1/116th Infantry Regiment landing in the first wave on the Dog Green sector at H+1. Within ten minutes of landing, the murderous grazing and plunging machinegun and mortar fire rendered the unit combat ineffective with Dicks and over two thirds of his company, many from the town of Bedford, Virginia, dead or dying on that beach forever known to history as “Bloody Omaha.” Bedford Virginia is home to the National D Day Memorial. Thompson’s father, Colonel John Leon Dicks, class of 1918, had his son’s remains permanently interred in the Normandy American Cemetery. (more…)
By Rose Marie Godley, Citadel News Director
This article originally appeared in Alumni News of The Citadel – Winter 1972-1973. It is posted here in its entirety with the permission of the Citadel Alumni Association.
Front cover of Alumni News of The Citadel – Winter 1972 -1973
The earth shuddered as the Germans began their heavy counterattack. Maj. Thomas Dry Howie, ’29, warned his men, “Keep down!” And reassured them, “We’re getting out of here soon. We’ll get to Saint Lo yet!”
The Germans knew the value of holding Saint Lo with its vital network of roads. Only after the town was taken could American armor maneuver in the plains beyond to achieve the longed-for breakout.
Above the noise Howie explained his position over the battle phone to Maj. Gen. Charles H. Gerhardt, the commanding general.
“The Second can’t make it,” he yelled into the phone. “‘They’re too cut up. They’re exhausted. Yes – we can do it. We’re in better shape. Yes – if we jump off now. Okay.” Howie smiled. “See you in Saint Lo.”
Howie called for his map and gave orders for attack on Saint Lo – so close.
Then came a sudden German mortar barrage. (more…)
One year ago, I published I wear the ring and publicly announced the availability of this digital memorial to the Citadel Men interred and memorialized here in 16 military cemeteries across Europe and North Africa.
It has been a year of vibrant impressions and one of the most spiritually and emotionally enriching years of my life. As I have tried to get to know these men and to share their stories, I have had the pleasure of making many new friends, and reconnecting with old friends, here in Europe and in America. So many warm and incredible people have touched my life this year. For this, I am truly grateful.
I have compiled my Top Ten Memories. Here is our story as I experienced it the past 12 months…
– Into Thy Hands O Lord –
A few days after “going public”, I received an email from an alumnus. A few weeks later, I flew over the North Sea to visit Cambridge American Cemetery in England with him, two of his sons, and the historian of “The Bloody 100th”. It was an inspirational and moving experience that I shall never forget. Together, we paid our respects to the three Citadel Men resting in peace and the one memorialized on the Wall of the Missing. Together, we recited The Cadet Prayer.
On that day, I began a new phase in this journey. See my post The Major of St. Lo.
– Memorial Day –
During Memorial Day weekend, I visited the Citadel Men resting in peace at the Netherlands and Henri-Chapelle American Cemeteries. The two cemeteries are located just 20 kilometers from each other, one on either side of the Dutch-Belgian border to the east of Maastricht and Liege in the direction of Aachen, Germany.
An alumnus wrote to me several times during April and May, “Don’t forget those who are still Missing-In-Action!”. In remembrance of the eight men who rest in no known grave here in Europe and North Africa, I laid flowers at the grave of an unknown a few meters from Albert S. Hagood, Class of 1931. They are not forgotten.
– Faces and Stories –
Since last April, I have received details about our men from many places – alumni, family, their “adopters”, historians, and archivists. Four men have received the attention of several posts. Their names, faces, and stories have become familiar. (more…)
By Hal Boyle
With the 116th Infantry Regiment in France, July 23 – (delayed) – (AP)
They passed out Presidential citations today to officers and doughboys who cracked St. Lo, the eastern hinge of the German battle-line, and it was a sad ceremony to many because the “Major of St. Lo” was not alive to receive his.
The “Major of St. Lo” was Thomas D. Howie of Stauton, Va., one of the best beloved battalion leaders in the American army. He was killed July 17, the day before the city fell, after he broke through the Nazi wall to relieve another battalion of this regiment which was encircled on the outskirts.
Today the major lies in honor with other officers and men in the 29th division’s cemetery  – but on the day St. Lo was taken the dead major was carried through the streets in state in an ambulance and his flag-draped body was placed on a pile of rubble beside the shell-wrecked church of Ste Croix. The storming force passed in review through an artillery barrage thrown by the withdrawing Germans.
Howie was bald and in his middle thirties. He formerly taught English literature and coached boxing and football at Staunton Military academy. He was an athletic star himself earlier at The Citadel Military College, Charleston, S.C.
Normandy Trip 2012 Agenda
I am sharing this so that maybe you can use it as a basis if you ever have the chance to visit Normandy. There are museums and memorials around almost every corner, and it can be difficult to determine beforehand from the guidebooks which are the quality, must-sees.
Our trip leader, Willem, history teacher and WWII expert, put the agenda together based upon his many visits to the D-Day beaches. It looks like a lot. It was a lot. But it was not over-the-top. We still had plenty of time to relax at a café for a cup of coffee in the morning and a beer or sparkling cider in the afternoon. We were back at the hotel on average around 9.30 p.m. We would have a drink together, and then the younger cohort would stay out awhile longer. The 8 a.m. start was easily made by everyone, and the breakfasts of orange juice with fresh croissants, baguette, ham and cheese was the perfect way to start each day’s adventure.
I can think of only a few places on this earth whose name can evoke so many images and emotions. While for a few William the Conqueror and the Norman invasion of England in 1066 may immediately spring to mind, for most the flash begins with the 6th of June, 1944.
In America, everyone learns about D-Day when studying modern history and the Second War World. Normandy, however, is not remembered as a region of France but as a cemetery and a string of 5 beaches – Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno, and Sword. In reality, it is so much more. Last week, I took a trip to Normandy. It was my first time there, and it was an unforgettable experience which I would like to share with you, a day at a time.
But first, to tell the story properly, I must provide background. It was a group excursion which began from my home in The Netherlands. We were a group of 9. What made this a special group for me, and what I considered a once in a lifetime opportunity, was the fact that the trip was arranged by a college history teacher (and very close friend). We were joined by 4 of his students (all aspiring history teachers), a former museum curator, and another amateur enthusiast like me. Rounding out the group was my friend’s former student who now teaches history at a high school and who is a WWII expert. The WWII expert, Willem, drew up our agenda based upon the knowledge of the area he has gained through many previous visits. It was an amazing program. Providing another aspect of uniqueness, all my travel companions were Dutch.