world war ii: veterans

Today (06.06.17) marks the 73rd anniversary of Operation Overlord, the Allied invasion of Normandy.
On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline, to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which, “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 Ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Continental Europe. The cost in lives on D-Day was high. More than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded, but their sacrifice allowed more than 100,000 Soldiers to begin the slow, hard slog across Europe, to defeat Adolf Hitler’s crack troops.

fascism doesn’t mean violence yall, it means nationalistic, authoritarian government.

Words have meaning. You can use violence and not be fascists. 

Is someone defending themselves from imminent death a fascist because they used violence? No because thats a fucking ignorant leap.

Defense against oppression is not fascism, defense against authoritarianism is not fascism, fighting nazis is not fascism.

Yall out here glorifying World War II veterans, but as soon as people start punching real life nazis right outside your window, you start callin’ em fascists without knowing what you’re saying. 

You’re erasing history to suit your liberal agenda, violence has always been used to defend others against those who wish harm upon the masses.

In case you needed any clarification, Antifa, THIS is a real "Holocaust hero":

You are not Simon Wiesenthal. You are a 20 year old Communist hippie with dreadlocks and Admiral Ackbar pronouns. To compare yourself to him, to take his title as your own when you have never faced an iota of what he did, and never been in the death camps, is an insult to the memory of a good man.

And just in case you’re too mentally challenged to differentiate between the Holocaust and World War II, where the fight against fascism… you know… actually took place, this is a hero of World War II:

See this manlet over here? Audie Murphy, one of the baddest fuckin’ bad asses of WW2. In 1944, he killed six German soldiers and wounded two advancing under direct fire from a machine gun nest after the death of his best friend. His advance enabled him to take control of the MG42, from which he took out two more gun emplacements and two hidden sniper positions.

Impressive, huh?

Well THAT AIN’T FUCKIN ALL, XON.

North of the German city of Holtzwihr on January 20, 1945, he single handedly held off six German tanks and an entire company of troops from three sides while firing on them unprotected from atop a burning enemy tank. This went on FOR A WHOLE HOUR and until all his ammunition, spare or otherwise, was used up. In so doing, he killed or wounded at least 50 of the 250 sent to cap him in the ass, only sustaining a flesh wound in the process. He saved his company and enabled them to hold the woods, thus taking a desired objective away from the enemy, all by himself. That got him a very well-deserved Medal of Honor. By the end of the war, he had killed 240 German soldiers and received every award for valor the Army could think of, 33 in all.

That man is a legend. He is in a class by himself. You get me? Himself.

You wouldn’t be able to fill his shoes. You wouldn’t even be accepted into military service! You’d crack under the pressure and shoot your superior on the way to Normandy for being part of an invading force of occupiers!

The only time you could get a Medal of Honor would be as part of a Stolen Valor charge waiting to happen! The only trains you have been on are man-trains!

Shut the fuck up I swear to God. Every time I see another flyer where you denigrate Jews and interracial relationships while blaming the right for the bigotry in this country my IQ drops 10 points. Think of the poor little brain cells, my dudes, do they need to be in a Sarah McLachlan commercial before you stop? Is that what it’ll take?

2

AESTHETIC MEME: [1/9] characters: S t e v e  R o g e r s
Captain Steven “Steve” Grant Rogers is a Super Soldier, World War II veteran and the world’s first superhero. After a top secret Super-Soldier program transformed the frail Steve Rogers into the powerful and heroic Captain America, his amazing World War II exploits made him a living legend. Rogers attacked multiple HYDRA quarters with his Howling Commandos, to the dismay of the Red Skull. Rogers helped the Allies win the war, but crashed into the Arctic during his final mission. Awakening in the modern day, Rogers learned that he had spent 67 years trapped in the glacial ice.

On February 23, 1945 (72 years ago today) a 40-man patrol of U.S. Marines, not knowing if they would reach the top or not, summited the 545-foot extinct, volcano of Mount Suribachi and raised the first American flag over Japanese soil. Later, a second Marine patrol reached the top and raised a second, larger flag so the entire island could see the stars and stripes waving in the wind. Secretary of the Navy, James Forrestal, who witnessed the flag raising said, “The raising of that flag on Suribachi means a Marine Corps for the next five hundred years.”

2

The American Paratrooper Who Served in the Red Army During World War II.

When the United States entered World War II in 1941, Joseph R. Beyrle enlisted in the US Army and volunteered for the elite paratrooper service.  After completing paratrooper training and training as a demonlitions expert, he was assigned to the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division (Screaming Eagles) with the rank of sergeant. Little did he know where the winds of destiny would blow him. 

His first two missions were secret clandestine operations in which he covertly parachuted into German occupied France wearing bandoliers filled with gold, which he delivered to the French Resistance. On June 6th, 1944 Beyrle participated in the legendary D-Day drop during the Normandy Invasions. When his plane came under heavy fire he was forced to jump early and only 120 meters above the ground. Despite being separated from his unit, Sgt. Beyrle continued his mission, performing acts of sabotage behind enemy lines which resulted in the destruction of two bridges and a power station.  Unfortunatley a few days later he was captured by the Germans when he accidentally stumbled upon a German machine gun nest.  For the next 7 months he was held as a prisoner of war, where he became notorious as an escape artist, making several attempts, two of which were seccessful.  After each attempt, the Germans tortured, starved, and beat him, then transfered him to a different camp.  During his time in German captivity he was shuffled between seven different camps.  After his 7th escape attempt, which was successful except that he accidentally boarded a train for Berlin, the Germans sent him to a camp deep within Poland, with the idea that it’s distance from the Western Front would discourage him from further escape attempts.  Promptly after arriving at the camp in January of 1945, he successfully escaped and made his way to Soviet lines.

After his escape, he came upon the 1st Battalian of the 1st Tank Guards, where he met the famous lady tank commander Captain Aleksandra Samusenko, introducing her with the greeting, “Americansky tovarishch” (American comrade), while handing over a pack of Lucky Strikes. 

Wanting to get back into the war, Bayrle convinced Samusenko to allow him to join the Battalion. Samusenko agreed, and he was appointed a tank machine gunner.  For the next month he would serve with the Red Army, even taking part in the liberation of the POW camp from which he had escaped.  In February of 1945, he was seriously wounded after an attack by a Stuka dive bomber, and was evacuated to a Soviet hospital. During his recuperation, he met none other than the Soviet supreme military commander, Field Marshal Georgy Zhukov. 

 When Bayrle arrived at the US Embassy in Moscow, he learned that he was officially listed as dead, and that his family back home in Muskegon, Michigan had celebrated his funeral.  As it turns out, when he was captured during the Normandy Invasion, his uniforn and dogtags were taken and used by a German infiltration unit.  The German soldier wearing the uniform was unexpectidly killed in September, the corpse being recovered by the Allies and mistakenly identifed as Bayrle’s and buried in France.  Bayrle returned home in April of 1945, married in 1946 (coincidentally in the same church that held his funeral) and lived a happy life raising three children. In 1994 during the 50th Anniversary of D-Day, he was awarded with medals by both US President Bill Clinton and Russian President Boris Yeltsin at the White House. He was also personally awarded a specially made presentation AK-47 dedicated to him by Mikhail Kalashnikov.  Joseph “Jumpin’ Joe” Beyrle passed away in 2004 while visiting the paratrooper training grounds in Toccoa, Georgia. He was buried with honors in Arlington National Cemetery.

3

You take the file Natasha’s holding out to you and flip it open to see a familiar setting. “Why are we going to Star City?”

“There’s a growing crime ring there that could turn into a terrorist threat,” Steve explains.

“Who’s Damien Dark?” Sam asks, flipping through his own file. You, Sam, Steve, Natasha, and Wanda are the only ones going on this mission. At least for now.

“We suspect he’s the crime ring’s leader.” Natasha pulls up a picture of him on the projection monitor. “For the past couple of weeks, he’s either been unable to track down, or at social gatherings.” She looks over at you. “He’s been at every single one of your boyfriend’s campaign events.”

You swallow nervously. Oliver still doesn’t know you’re an Avenger. He’s already been through enough, he doesn’t need a possible evil overlord after him and a superhero girlfriend. “Okay, so what’s the game plan?” you ask.

“We,” Steve starts, “will be undercover in Star City until we can’t be anymore. We’ll be supporting Mr. Queen’s campaign. Wanda will go through Damien’s mind at each event so we know if he’s guilty, and, possibly, what he’s up to.” He locks eyes with Wanda, who stands next to you with her arms crossed. “Is that alright?”

She nods. “I can do it.”

The corner of Steve’s mouth twitches up in a smile at her words. “All right, we’ll head out in fifteen minutes so we can make Queen’s next event. ”

“Steve,” Sam says, “what about the Green Arrow?”

Natasha and Steve exchange a look that makes you frown.

“We tried to contact the vigilante so we could work with him, but got no response,” Natasha says. “We’re on our own for now.”
___________________________________________________

“Hey.” You smile, walking up to where Thea stands in the front row of Oliver’s supporters. The younger girl smiles brightly and hugs you.

“Hey!” She squeals, pulling away from the hug, but keeping her hands on your shoulders. “Where have you been? It’s been months!”

You sigh. “My job’s kept me tied up in a bad way.” Your eyes flicker over to where Steve stands at the edge of the crowd, the World War II veteran hat Natasha got him perched on his head. His undercover get up sucks, as usual. “In fact, I’m here on business.”

Thea frowns slightly. “What kind of–”

She’s cut off as Oliver takes the stage in the new music hall, smiling and waving as the crowd cheers and cameras flash. “I’ll tell you later!” You yell to Thea over the commotion. She nods.

“Good evening, everyone,” Oliver greets, smiling at the crowd. His eyes flit over you once before resting on you, making his smile brighten. “It’s great to see you all here.” You can’t help the smile that comes over your face at the way he’s looking at you.

“As you probably know, I am here to support the opening of this beautiful new Star City Music Hall here in the Glades. Earlier this year, it was–”

You feel a tug on your right sleeve and turn your head to see Wanda with wide eyes flashing quickly from scarlet to brown. “Wanda, what’s wrong?” You whisper, taking hold of her elbow in case she gets weak. “Wanda?”

Thea comes at your side. “Hey, is she okay?”

“She’s fine.” You wince at how quickly you responded. “This is my colleague. She doesn’t do well in crowds, I’ll be right back.”

Thea nods with worried eyes and you wrap your arm around Wanda’s waist, half-carrying her over to the entrance of a hallway. “What’s wrong, Wanda? What is it?”

Sam walks up to you, sporting a red hat and a casual jacket and jeans. “Damien is here, but something … Something is wrong with it. It’s twisted and dark, (y/n). It’s making me dizzy.”

“Do you see anything about him? Anything important?” Sam asks.

Wanda shakes her head. “Nothing. Except …” Her eyes suddenly widen, her irises all scarlet as she sits there, quietly shaking.

You shake her shoulder, getting increasingly more worried. “Wanda? Wanda are you okay?”

She continues to shake uncontrollably, and you and Sam share a worried look. “What do we do?” he asks.

Suddenly, the floor shakes with the force of an explosion, and the sound of gunshots comes from the hall. You gently lower Wanda to the floor as Sam runs to look at what’s going on. You follow, looking around the corner to see complete chaos.

People are fleeing in all directions, and masked men with guns are firing into the crowd. Oliver is nowhere to be seen, which terrifies you. You glance behind you to see Wanda in the same state, before seeing Felicity running towards you.

“Felicity!” You yell. Running forward, you take her arm and pull her behind cover. Sam pulls out his gun and guards the entrance as you pull the surprisingly calm blonde towards Wanda. “Please watch her, something’s wrong and I have to go.”

Felicity nods before glancing at Wanda and doing a double take. “Is that … ?” Then she looks at Sam’s crappy undercover outfit and back at you, putting two and two together. “Oh my god.”

You smile nervously. “I’ll be back.”

Then you run into the fray after Sam, pulling on your wrist braces as you do.
___________________________________________________

Sam grins, walking towards where Diggle stands on the other side of the lair. “Looks like neither of us really got out of the good fight.”

“Can’t escape.” Dig laughs, shaking his old army buddy’s hand. He sees Steve standing beside Sam and shakes the captain’s hand. “Even after a lifetime.”

Steve laughs dryly, and the three veterans look around the room. Felicity, Thea, Wanda, and Natasha are all talking around the computers as Felicity tries to track the terrorists. Wanda has a blanket around her shoulders, and is still shaking slightly. She doesn’t know what happened to her at the music hall, only that Damien caused it somehow. According to her, he must have known that she was in his mind somehow.

All of the information she gathered from him was erased.

While the two teams have gotten along well so far, the couple at the other end of the room has been in a quiet argument for two hours. They were silent on the ride to the lair, silent for the first half hour, and finally, they went and talked and haven’t stopped. The others are doing their best to ignore it.

“So, what’re they usually like when they’re together?” Sam asks, looking away from you and Oliver and back at Diggle. “(y/n) talks about Oliver all the time, but …”

Dig smiles a bit. “They’re great. Whenever (Y/n)’s in town, Oliver’s the happiest. I just wish he would’ve told her about his nightly activities. And that she told him.”

Steve nods. “(Y/n)’s so strict about keeping her identity secret. She’s never told me why.” The three are silent as they look at the other end of the room. Steve clears his throat. “Well, since they’re a bit caught up at the moment, we should probably discuss some sort of plan.” The other two men agree, and they begin discussing battle strategies.

On the other side of the large room, (y/n) steps away from Oliver, arms crossing over her chest. “I just don’t understand why you didn’t tell me.”

He holds up a finger, eyes narrowing at her. “You have no right to say that to me. You did the same thing.”

“I was going to tell you today. After your conference. But then some psychos decided to shoot up the place, so I didn’t really get the chance.”

Oliver’s angry gaze doesn’t falter from you and you sigh, stepping forward and interlacing both of your hands with his. “Look, I love you, Oliver, and I really don’t want this to come between us. We both kept secrets, and we both know everything now, so can we please just promise each other that we won’t lie anymore and move on?”

You pause, looking down at your hands. “I already hardly see you, I don’t want to lose you forever.”

He untangles his right hand’s fingers from your left’s and gently cups your chin, making you look up at him. “No more secrets?”

You shake your head.

“And you’ll keep me updated?”

You nod. “And you’ll keep me updated?”

He nods. You smile a little bit.

“Good.”

Oliver smiles softly. “So we’re good?”

You laugh. “Yes, Ollie, we’re good.”

Still smiling, he leans down and kisses you softly. You tangle your fingers in his hair and kiss him back for a few seconds before pulling away. The two of you just sway back and forth for a couple of seconds, foreheads touching.

“I love you.” He smiles.

“I love you too.”

5

Photos I took during an excursion into Arlington National Cemetery and Washington D.C. on Memorial Day. I wanted to visit and photograph each of the memorials as well as take time to reflect on the sacrifice the men and women of our armed forces have made throughout the years so that we may live free. It was a successful mission. I got some good shots and had the pleasure of meeting many fellow veterans while exchanging some stories.

5

Photos I took yesterday during my excursion into D.C. on Memorial Day. Sunrise at the United States Marine Corps War Memorial. The Korean War Memorial. The Vietnam Veterans Memorial, the World War II Memorial and Arlington National Cemetery. It was a very good day of observing and honoring our nation’s fallen warriors.

6

“President Obama honored a very special veteran [in the White House Oval Office recently]: 110-year-old Emma Didlake. A resident of Detroit, Didlake is believed to be the nation’s oldest veteran.

‘We are so grateful that she is here with us today… She is a great reminder not only of the sacrifices the Greatest Generation made.’ Obama said, but also the ‘trailblazing’ by women and African-American veterans.

Didlake ‘was a Private during the course of her service and her decorations include the Women’s Army Corps Service Medal, American Campaign Medal, and World War II Victory Medal,’ the White House said in a statement.” David Jackson, USA Today 

“Known to family as ‘Big Mama,’ Didlake was a 38-year-old wife and mother of five when she 'wanted to do something different’ and signed up for the Women’s Army Auxiliary Corps in 1943, said her granddaughter, Marilyn Horne. She served stateside for about seven months during the war, as a private and driver.

After she was discharged, she and her family moved to Detroit in 1944 – and she quickly joined the local NAACP chapter. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1963 and received a lifetime achievement award two years ago from the chapter.” Jeff Karoub, The Associated Press 

1st Photo by Mandel Ngan, AFP/Getty Images

All other photos by Evan Vucci/AP

Veteran’s Day is an odd day of reflection for me. While multiple family members have served this great nation of ours, my grandfather Angelo gives me the greatest pause.

Born in Italy, he served in an Alpine regiment of the Italian army for most of his teenage years. Upon Italy’s formal entrance into war (1940), Angelo deserted the Italian army, vowing to never fight for a fascist state. He would spend the rest of the war dodging Italian and German oppression, at the cost of most of his family and friends. At war’s end he immigrated to the United States where, shortly thereafter, he became a citizen.

And that was his story until his untimely death in 1998.

It was only after his death that my family was exposed to an entirely different story.

After Angelo’s desertion he fled to a wealthy uncle who, once the owner of an automobile parts factory, had been forced to begin manufacturing bombs for the Nazi offensive in North Africa. Angelo’s uncle agreed to shelter him and gave him a job on the assembly line, in the quality assurance unit. It was there that Angelo removed the primers of every third bomb to leave the factory, a practice he continued for nine months before the Gestapo were able to trace the root of so many faulty bombs.

Warned of impending danger, Angelo’s uncle informed my grandfather that the Germans were launching an investigation and questioning all workers in the factory. It was at that point that Angelo disappeared into the Northern Italy countryside.

It’s not clear to us, and the CIA has been less than forthcoming, on how the United States learned of Angelo. Perhaps it was through underground connections, perhaps it was via counterintelligence. However the means, Angelo was quickly recruited to the Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the precursor to today’s CIA, in early 1942.

Angelo spent the rest of the war operating in a classified capacity throughout Europe. He was not a member of the Italian Resistance forces, but was instead directly funded, supplied and informed by the United States government. While he actively recruited from within his family and friends to fight against the fascist regime and their Nazi counterparts, Angelo was always the point man for the OSS, one of only a handful of non-US citizens taking direct orders from America in Europe.

An active participant in the hanging of Mussolini, and the orchestrator of more than a dozen still-classified missions in the Alpine regions of Italy, Austria and Germany, Angelo and his teams freed multiple prison, work and death camps, while engaging in guerrilla tactics to target key enemy positions throughout occupied Europe. In the process of doing so, he indirectly facilitated the deaths of 62 blood relatives who participated in his missions and took direct orders from him. By the war’s end only Angelo and one of his cousins shared the same last name.

On May 8, 1945 (the end of the war in Europe), Angelo was in Berlin, an estimated 10 kilometers from Hitler’s bunker. The next week he was on a ship headed to the United States, he and his cousin made American citizens in exchange for their service. Due to ongoing threats and always-present paranoia, Angelo would not return to Europe for 40 years.

My grandfather’s life, something straight out of a James Bond film, underscores the silent wars waged everyday by those veterans who can never wear a uniform for the country they gave so much to protect. Along with summaries of operations since-declassified, the CIA provided our family with ten passports featuring different names and nationalities; ghosts of people who never even existed.

My grandfather’s silence, a silence that he took to his grave, underscores the dedication, commitment and discipline of our least known, yet most effective fighting forces. So while we take today to honor those who proudly dawn the uniform and salute the flag, never forget there are men and women who have willingly given up their lives, families and identities in their continued pursuit of protecting this nation.

We will never know you. We owe you more than we will ever know.

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World War II veteran reunited with M1 Garand