Every August, one of the world’s largest re-enactments of D-Day takes place on the shores of Lake Erie in Connaught, Ohio. His 40,000 spectators gathered on weekends to watch his 4,000 performers battle British, American and German armies as they did on the beaches of Normandy, France in June 1944. increase. (Spoiler alert: Allies win every year.)
The guests of honor at this event are actual veterans of World War II, but since the event’s inception in 1999, with each passing year, fewer and fewer veterans of this great generation have emerged. I had the opportunity to sit and chat with some of them who attended in 2022. D-Day ConnaughtThey are living history, a true link between the fight for freedom against fascism of the past and the lifestyle we can enjoy today because of their courage and sacrifice.
The first person I interviewed was 95-year-old George Koller. He was only 16 years old when he entered World War II. He entered the Navy and served on the USS Provo He Victory, which was sunk at Pearl Harbor carrying 8,500 rounds of ammunition. He told a funny story about how the captain always despised him for having a camera that he was always taking pictures with (it was a state of the art camera at the time). for a personal engagement he was participating in. George also told me that, in his view, the true heroes of war were the women who went home who made supplies for the troops serving in the war.
Then I had the opportunity to sit down with Ernie Laslow. he is 100 years old. 50-caliber machine-gun turret mounted on a Deuce and Half truck and shot down his ME109 plane in Germany. He took part in several major battles, including Normandy, Northern France, the Bulge (Belgium), Central Europe, and the Rhineland. Once, in Marseille, France, he and some of his men were in an abandoned chateau, and German soldiers attempted a surprise attack, so he and his companions jumped on a toboggan and sledged through the Alps. I ran away. Ernie was one of five brothers who attended the service and all made it home safely. He said he had some great memories from the war, including a French civilian who brought a bottle of wine. Just weeks after Arnie returned home from the war, his neighbor’s house caught fire. He heard a little baby crying upstairs, so he grabbed a ladder and ran over to rescue the baby from the burning house. ) told me that he would be reunited with Ernie in a few months.
It was an honor and a pleasure to meet 97-year-old Ila Cole. Towards the end of the war, she joined her WAVES (Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service). She was sent to New York City for her two-month boot camp. At the end of bootcamp, her unit traveled by subway to Yankee Stadium to perform in her one of the ball games. She eventually became a Navy Specialist (V’s) flight attendant (similar to a flight attendant). She primarily worked for R&R on her four propeller RFD planes transporting military personnel from Moffett Airfield in California to John in Honolulu. It takes about 12 hours. Some of the planes she worked on were transporting wounded military personnel.
I had the thrill of a lifetime at D-Day Conneaut. Had to fly in a C-47 WWII plane It is called “Whiskey 7” or “W-7” for short. It was taking event-goers on short rides across the Coneyto along the shores of Lake Erie all weekend. He was the actual lead aircraft of the second wave when he dropped paratroopers over Normandy, France on D-Day in June 1944. In fact, 1944 seemed to come to life as we imagined the brave young soldiers of World War II preparing to leap from the fuselage of their comfort into the unknown. This ride of a lifetime made me a little emotional.
After the weekend’s D-Day Conneaut event ended, I had the chance to go to the beach and meet some tank operators/re-performers. They were operating his 1942 MCAI Stuart tank. They attend about four events a year and are privately funded. He needed a crew of four to operate the Stuart tank, and was the type of tank Patton used in Tunisia in World War II. These guys are a special breed and had a lot of fun with what you can tell.
Soon, the news of the day will be that the last surviving World War II veteran has died. The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs expects fewer than 170,000 of his 16 million American soldiers who fought in World War II to be alive here in 2022. I believe this generational story is important for America to harness for the future. Let’s do everything we can to show our WWII veterans still with us and appreciation and appreciation for a job well done at his annual D-Day Conneaut has volunteer and sponsor opportunities. https://www.ddayohio.us/support.html
Jack Witt, MS, CPT
Fitness & Health Coach
310.562.5629 cell / 818.760.3891 main
https://nohoartsdistrict.com/its-d-day-on-the-shores-of-lake-erie/ D-Day on Lake Erie – NoHo Arts District