Edgefield man was among first on D-Day

  • Follow Your Faith

J.L. Doolittle, of Edgefield, S.C., is a hero. Small of stature and tough as nails, he turned 90 this year. He epitomizes the "Greatest Generation."

Sixty-five years ago today, Mr. Doolittle was one of 150 commandos who helped launch the D-Day invasion to liberate Europe from the grip of Nazi Germany.

Two days earlier, the Allied commander, Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, had told them at supper, "You'll board the ship in the morning." Men cheered and shouted. Some wept. Mr. Doolittle said, "I had a feeling like a rock in my stomach."

A terrible storm delayed the invasion one day.

At 3 a.m. on June 6, the chaplain and Eisenhower got into a hot argument. The chaplain wanted to pray with the commandos. Ike said, "No, you will soften them up." The chaplain won out, Mr. Doolittle said.

"I'll always be grateful for that chaplain, for telling us the truth," he said.

"Boys," the chaplain said, "There's not much hope for you. Your officers predict 148 out of 150 of you will be killed. You'll be first to clear the water of mines and barbed wire for others to follow. You're looking right down the barrel of death. If you ain't right with God, get right now."

All bowed their heads as the chaplain led in prayer. Four men broke down as the commandos loaded into the landing craft. Near the drop-off point, the tech sergeant, who would be the first off the boat, also broke down. Mr. Doolittle said he took his place.

"It's a terrible feeling to jump into that water," he said. "You ain't got no home, no bed, and don't even feel like you've got a country."

The Germans opened fire, but Mr. Doolittle miraculously got to the beach. His life jacket and uniform were torn to shreds from bullets, but none made a direct hit.

He fought his way up the cliffs and eventually through France and Germany. He was in the Battle of the Bulge, swam across the Rhine River, and marched into Berlin. Only he and two other commandos from his original unit made it through the war. For two incidents of extraordinary bravery, he was awarded the Silver Star and the Bronze Star.

"For some reason unknown to me," Doolittle said, "the good Lord allowed me to come back home to Edgefield. I don't consider myself a hero. None of us did. We just did our job the best we could for our country."

THE REV. DAN WHITE IS PASTOR OF NORTH COLUMBIA CHURCH IN MARTINEZ.

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markmjtx
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markmjtx 06/06/09 - 08:37 am
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Today,we need to remember all

Today,we need to remember all the soldiers, sailors and airmen of June 6, 1944. Thank you Mr. Doolittle. You are a hero.

Grasshopper
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Grasshopper 06/06/09 - 11:08 am
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What a sobering reflection of

What a sobering reflection of history, thank you Mr. Doolittle!

invelwell
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invelwell 06/06/09 - 04:36 pm
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Nothing makes me prouder than

Nothing makes me prouder than to call you my grandfather

KSL
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KSL 06/06/09 - 10:22 pm
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Thank you for your service

Thank you for your service and your bravery.

deeo1055@yahoo.com
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deeo1055@yahoo.com 06/07/09 - 08:54 am
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A REAL hero is like this

A REAL hero is like this man...does not view himself as such; realized God brought him through whille many of his comrades died, no other reasonable explanation....All combat vets I have ever known, don't like to talk about it, most babbermouths who do NEVER saw combat.... Thank you sir for your doing your duty. My uncle Robert died at Shuri Castle Okinawa, and his 1st cousin Neal died @ Normandy.

WW1949
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WW1949 06/07/09 - 11:53 am
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Mr. Doolittle has always been

Mr. Doolittle has always been a humble man and I am proud to know him, his wife, daughter and entire family. I have had a special connection with this family for almost 40 years and they do not come any finer. Thanks Mr. Doolittle for your service and dedication to the United States in its greatest time of need.
BJ

WW1949
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WW1949 06/07/09 - 12:20 pm
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Troy, your grandfather is a

Troy, your grandfather is a great man.

scartin
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scartin 06/07/09 - 09:14 pm
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Mr. J.L,, I know I speak for

Mr. J.L,, I know I speak for everyone at the Grove when I say, "Thank you for being a hero then... and being a hero now." All Americans owe a debt of gratitude to you and others who selflessly served, bravely fought and now humbly live among us as a continued reminder of so much that has been best about our great country. Pastor Steve

MartyMatfess
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MartyMatfess 06/10/09 - 03:40 pm
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What a wonderful and

What a wonderful and heartwarming story about a GREAT man. I cannot imagine the horrors you must have seen and the BRAVERY you must have had. That moment in time was pivotal to the war effort, and it is so sad so many of our boys gave thier lives for that. Thank you Mr Doolittle, and thank you Rev White for sharing this story.

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