Augusta-area residents make, experience D-Day history

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‘TRYING TO FORGET’

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Albert Shaw (second from left) served in the 69th Infantry Division during World War II. He arrived in Normandy the day after D-Day. Some things he saw were "horrible."  SPECIAL
SPECIAL
Albert Shaw (second from left) served in the 69th Infantry Division during World War II. He arrived in Normandy the day after D-Day. Some things he saw were "horrible."

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Albert Shaw rarely speaks of his time in service.

“After all these years,” said Shaw, wiping away tears. “I’m still trying to forget it.”

Shaw, 90, of Martinez, served in the 69th infantry division during World War II and arrived in Normandy the day after D-Day.

“I was part of the second wave of troops into France,” he said. “When I got to Normandy, the bodies were stacked up like cordwood.”

Shaw’s D-Day duties included protecting a bridge, as well as dropping ammunition into a 70-pound barrel.

“I carried that barrel all over Germany,” the West Lake resident said. “It wasn’t a lot of fun.”

Shaw, along with three of his brothers, served during World War II.

“Albert was looking at all those bodies and had no idea if one was his brother,” wife Joyce Shaw said. “Can you imagine that? And think about their mother. Every Sunday she’d write to her sons never knowing their condition. I can’t imagine.”

Although Shaw has no regrets about serving, he made it clear that he wouldn’t wish the same experience for his family.

“I’m very proud I was part of it,” he said. “But I would never want to do it again and hope none of my grandchildren will ever have to go through anything like this. Some of the things I saw were truly horrible.”

‘VERY SCARY’

Larry Loeffler’s order was clear on D-Day: Don’t leave the ship.

Loeffler, who has lived in Augusta for eight years, was a member of the Navy and part of a unit in charge of delivering troops and supplies across the English Channel.

“I was on the LST 307, one of the second groups of ships to go in on D-Day,” Loeffler said. “Throughout the war, our ship made 30 to 35 trips from Southampton (England) to Normandy to deliver supplies.”

Loeffler was 18 years old on June 6, 1944, a day that remains clear 70 years later.

“We were on a flat-bottom ship and had to wait for the tide to come back in before we could go back to England,” the first-class seaman said. “It was a very scary experience and something I’ll never forget.”

‘HIGH LEVEL OF RESPECT’

Last month, Ed Presnell and his two sisters spent 18 days in Europe, tracking their father’s footsteps during World War II.

“I had no inkling how much the lessons learned over the last three weeks would impact my already high level of respect for those we honored,” said Presnell, of Augusta. “You can say it was a complete success and a life-changing epiphany.”

Presnell’s father was a first sergeant of his company, which arrived in Normandy six days after D-Day.

“Daddy was a member of the Army, and his job was to keep records during the war,” Presnell said. “He never spoke about it to us, but he did keep a chest full of pictures, maps, helmets and journals. That’s how my sister got all the information for our trip.”

Presnell’s father, now deceased, earned two Purple Hearts for his service during World War II.

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b1
110
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b1 06/06/14 - 09:16 am
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God Bless Our Country

God Bless our Country and ALL who served!

John Locke
291
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John Locke 06/06/14 - 12:05 pm
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Facts are facts

I question the reporter in the story. He needs to do more homework. He stated, "Shaw, 90, of Martinez, served in the 69th infantry division during World War II and arrived in Normandy the day after D-Day." According to the US Center of Military history website, the 69th Division was not part of the Normandy Campaign, but the 79th was. Maybe Mr. Shaw forgot which division he was in. The 69th Division didn't get to Great Britain until 12 December 1944 then landed at Le Harve in January 1945. http://www.69th-infantry-division.com/ This is the official veterans site. It matches the official Army site. http://www.history.army.mil/documents/ETO-OB/69ID-ETO.htm The 79th division arrived on UTAH beach, not OMAHA on 12 June according to an online site, "After training in the United Kingdom from 17 April 1944, the 79th Infantry Division landed on Utah Beach, Normandy, 12–14 June and entered combat 19 June 1944"
But then there is the issue of dead US soldiers being stacked like wood that is puzzling, after 6 days??? UTAH beach had much lower casualties than OMAHA did, about 200 total casualties according to an official US Army website which states, "The 8th and 22d Infantry Regiments, which landed before noon, suffered a total of 118 casualties on D Day, 12 of them fatalities. The division as a whole suffered only 197 casualties during the day, and these included 60 men missing through the loss (at sea)." http://history.army.mil/books/wwii/utah/utah3.htm So this is either very poor reporting, fact checking of the writer, or Mr. Shaw is thinking of something else, but it doesn't add up or match the facts presented at reputable sites. What is the story here? The division numbers are either incorrect, location is wrong, dates/chronology is wrong, etc, etc. Great job Augusta Chronicle, just print any old thing cause it sounds good??

Connor Threlkeld
618
Points
Connor Threlkeld 06/06/14 - 06:29 pm
0
0
John Locke, at around 1 a.m.

John Locke, at around 1 a.m. I noticed some of the same issues you discovered, using some of the same sources. I've considered the possibility that Mr. Shaw's company or battalion may have been assigned temporarily to a division that landed the day after D-Day, as was done at the time to ensure active divisions were at full strength. Our reporter is taking a closer look at the man's story, and has already talked to a couple of his sources again today. Please know we're looking into it.

So far, he, his wife and his pastor all confirm he was in the 69th ID. The Library of Congress record of his participation in a video interview for the Veterans History Project lists his unit as Company D, 3rd Battalion, 273rd Infantry Regiment, 69th Infantry Division.
http://lcweb2.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/bib/69043
Perhaps the video interview, recorded a few years ago, might include some more details. I am looking into finding a copy of the interview.

John Locke
291
Points
John Locke 06/08/14 - 04:19 pm
0
0
Excellent

That sounds great. I'm a veteran first of all, so one thing we all tend to do is get a little touchy when we hear/see things that don't jive with our knowledge. I'm very familiar with the local Vets history project and was often involved in it. As such, I've grow very skeptical of veterans, or family members, who sometimes - as shown with the violations of the Stolen Valor Act - exceed or exagerate a claim. It's a difficult thing to do, but it has to be done. Facts are facts. If he can show personnel records, DD214 or equivilant, or orders, etc, then it may explain it. I'm aware of the whole replacement, additional units issues as well, but D-Day has been so well documented, I could understand if it was Salerno or Saipan. Thanks

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