D-Day Ohio 2011 report

August 26, 2011 - 1 Comment

by Jim Barnes

Our correspondent, Bill Donegan reports on the recent D-Day reenactment in Conneaut, Ohio:

We had a meeting of paradigms this past week-end at D-Day Ohio, Conneaut, for sure.

First we had invited our friends from the Reading Air Show, Dave and Lois Nowack, to attend. Dave was one of the downed US airmen trying to escape from the Germans. We have known the Nowacks for years and have attended many events with them and have visited their home. Lois was a ”Rosie the Riveter”. They are with the American Home Front Society.

Second our best friends from Fairmont, WV Ron and Debbie Wenig, He is the Gebirgjaeger with the handlebar moustache. Debbie was his Prussian hausfrau. We see them all the time and take turns hosting each other for sleepovers, events, reunions, etc. They are like brother and sister to us.

Thirdly our Charleston neighbors, and friends Paul Mullins with Daniel and Sean who do ad hoc impressions from Civil war to ww2. Paul and Verena are like our children as well as friends. Paul Mullins and I together are affiliated with probably more groups and impressions than most. Paul is always putting together sonder commando units and they always ask me to be their officer. Paul’s Luftwaffe group had asked me to be their officer for this event.

We were hoping that all of our friends would get to know and like each other, and in short, they did.

We started the week-end on Thursday by meeting the Nowacks and taking them to Biscotti’s, an Italian restaurant in Conneaut. Then all day Friday was spent meeting the veterans, shopping, meeting friends, being briefed on the event battles etc. My favorite vet was Marion C. Gray, a US Combat Medic, Tec 3 with the 29th Div., 116th Infantry Regiment, Co. A, who was on Omaha Beach, Dog Green on June 6, 1944.

Gray recounted a story about living in America after the war and visiting a French Restaurant for several years. The Restaurant owners had never known his affiliation with the war until a newspaper story revealed that he had been one of the first ashore on D-Day. The Restaurant owners, upon reading the story, bought Marion and his wife tickets to France, sent their daughter along as a translator and Marion was able to take his grandson on a tour of WW2 battlefields. He showed the grandson where he’d fished in France, Holland, Belgium. During one long walk in the French country side, Marion walked out into the field where a lone grave stone stood. He knelt down and brushed the dirt away from the lettering. His grandson asked, “Who is that”” O a friend of mine was his reply.

Ron and Debbie arrived Friday and Dave, Ron and I took part in the first bridge battle looking for a downed US airman. That’s where Dave tripped and fell flat on his face as he was evading the Germans. Great job, he was not hurt. The Nowacks, Donegans, and Wenigs then all paid a visit to Biscotti’s again. That’s why I missed the wedding and the beer garden. I was in bed by 2100 hours!

Saturday morning began rather slowly as all three of our families stayed at the Days Inn and we all ate breakfast together and the Wenigs and Novaks began a bonding process. I was almost late for the officers meeting but made it in time. Then came the first bridge battle when the Germans again were searching for Dave and Dave was escaping to the French underground. This time by wading in the creek with another downed US Airman.

This year the Germans were strafed by two fighters and a B-24 on the beach…an amazing and impressive show.


Bill Donegan



Comments (1)

bill donegan

August 29th, 2011 at 7:40 am    

Funny thing happened to Ron on Sat. night. He realized that he’d forgotten to pack his blue uniform pants. After calling me to see if I had a pair, he went to K-Mart and got a pair. Wow, K-Mart has German Kriegsmarine trousers!

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