Today “is”5 Jun 1944, D-Day-1.The Germans don’t know it, but tomorrow will witness the most massive invasion in human history.“Tonight”, combat engineers, including my uncle, Joseph Kachmar, will cross the channel and place charges on the defense works. “Tomorrow” his brother, Andrew Kachmar will cross the channel with the invasion forces.Two weeks from now, my father, Lewis Porter Barclay will cross the channel with his unit the 11th Armored Division, 3rd Army under General George S. Patton Jr.At the end of the war, the 11th AD will be in Austria.Peace has broken out.On the way the 11th has liberated the death camp at Mauthausen and the men are glad it’s over.Suddenly they are taking incoming mortar fire.They can see that it is coming from a cave on a mountainside.They fire on it but they have to lob their shots high to get to the cave entrance where they explode harmlessly on a ledge.They call for air support and fighters rocket the inside until the cave is silent.Troops from the 11th go into the cave and find it full of SS women who, apparently, had decided the war wasn’t over.The 11th took its heaviest casualties here.
Years after the war, someone notes that, statistically, a “higher than national average of WWII veterans died in their 50s of heart attacks or suicide.Joseph Kachmar has killed himself at 58.Andrew has died of a heart attack at 58.Lewis Barclay has died of a heart attack at 57.
If you are reading this, thank a teacher. If you are reading it in English, thank a WW II veteran.It’s almost too late.
My thanks especially to Louie Franklin Turner, not only for your service but your ability and willingness to provide info to us “younguns” is a true gift.One of your “buddies” my father-in-law, Nelson Henry Cox is 83 and has suffered a debilitating stroke.He is in an assisted living facility near Cleveland, OH.He was a flight engineer who worked training missions for B-17 aircrews at what was Lockbourne AAFB in Columbus, OH.My wife was born there.
Lewis P. Barclay Major, USAF, Retired “Cold War” Vet