D-Day June 6th, 1944

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the famous invasion of Normandy, France when allied forces launched a momentous attack against the Nazi German troops occupying France.

The American allied forces, now often referred to as “America’s greatest generation”, served their country selflessly, with honor and distinction. My father, Artie C. “Jack” Cotner, was one of those.

ArtieJackCotnerDDay

Artie “Jack” Cotner, England, one week prior to D-Day Invasion of Normandy

He enlisted the day after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii  on December 7th 1941 and served in both the Pacific and European campaigns as a U.S. Army Air Corps gunner and radio man, first on a B-17 Flying Fortress in the Pacific, then aboard a B-26 Marauder bomber in Europe.

Based in Australia for the Pacific campaign with the U.S. 19th Bomb Group, he fought with honor in the Coral Sea Battle, saw vicious combat over New Guinea, and survived the ferocious battle of Guadalcanal.

Cotner Australia 1942

Canberra, Australia 1944

After two years of combat in the Pacific, he was transferred to Europe. Based in Great Britain with the 397th Bomb Group, he flew more than 66 missions over Europe, the first of which was on D-Day June 6th, 1944. His B-26 Marauder the “Dee-feater” was seventeen minutes out ahead of the invasion forces bombing key targets along the French coast. With its prominent invasion-striped wings, this famous bomber can be seen in several D-Day newsreels of the time making its way inland high above the invading Allied naval armada at Normandy.

DeeFeaterB26BomberWW2

Dad’s plane, the Dee-feater, over Great Britain 1944

DeeFeater Crew 1944.jpg

“Dee-feater” crew, RAF Rivenhall, England, July 20th, 1944. My dad, kneeling, center. Colonel McCloud, standing center with helmet. 

 

In my book “Storytellin’ True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas” I write more about my father’s, mine, my brother’s, and nephew’s military service in a chapter titled “Veterans.” In it, I also explain the origin of his plane’s name and the reason behind its unusual spelling.

For more about the 75th anniversary of D-Day and Normandy follow this link http://en.normandie-tourisme.fr/calendar-of-events/anniversary-of-d-day-847-2.html

Isigny-sur-Mer - DDay Festival © Ville Isigny

Photo attribution: Isigny-sur Mer D-Day Festival @ Ville Isigny

May the world never forget their great sacrifice.

Jack Friday Sales Event!

Happy Holidays colorized Pen and Ink copyright noticed

Forget Black Friday sales events. On this blog it’s Jack Friday.

Actually, it’s a sales event that goes beyond just this Friday featuring the Kindle editions of both my short story collection and my Celtic murder mystery novel. They’re  on sale now through December 5th for just $0.99 each. From December 6th through December 23rd they will be half their usual listed price.

Grab a copy for yourself or purchase for family and friends.

 

“Who’s He Talking To?”

I come from a long line of storytellers.

Long before the printing press, and long before literacy became commonplace,  generations used oral tales to preserve cultural folklore and pass along family stories. Now, we celebrate World Storytelling Day on the Spring Equinox  here in the northern hemisphere. In addition to exchanging stories in our own communities, the Internet helps us share stories across cultures. This year I’m sharing a true tale told by my father when I was young.

 “Who’s He Talking To?”

Church is a big deal for most folks in my hometown as it is in practically every part of Arkansas. True to form, there are many stories of my line of Cotners and their interaction with ministers, preachers of the gospel, and the corporate social body known as church.

My grandfather and grandmother were Methodists and attended the United Methodist church in Booneville.

The first ever story about church that sticks in my mind was told to me by my dad relating a story concerning the first time, as a very young boy, he attended Methodist services with his mother.

Seated there with the rest of his family on the pew among the faithful that Sunday for dutiful worship, dad—ever the fact-based skeptic—listened intently for some time to the sermon. The minister  was playing his part, delivering the message with vigor, waving hands and arms and often looking up to the ceiling imploring the Almighty for one thing or the other as if God were some cheap vending machine that—if  enough selfish prayers were plopped into it—would dispense a little treat out and down to the aluminum tray at the bottom for its users to enjoy.

Finally, curiosity got the best of my dad and, in a lull in the preaching he turned to my grandmother and loudly asked, “Who in the world is he talking to?”

With the kindness, compassion, understanding, and motherly love only my grandmother could have shown, she whirled around on the pew and slapped my dad hard on the head and said, “Shut up!”

As the story goes, about half the congregation laughed and the other half seemed angry at my dad’s questioning. No one ever redressed my grandmother and no one ever gave my dad an intelligent, rational, thoughtful, answer to his question.

So, needless to say the blow and the incident left quite the impression on my dad; and I’m not just talking about the big red welt that came up on the side of his head.

This story, along with the fictional tale inspired by my dad’s experience, is included in my short story collection Storytellin: True and Fictional Short Stories of Arkansas.

Old Barns & Story Ideas

I have no idea what’s going on in my mind when I see old barns (and pre-1900s abandoned houses) but they activate my creative imagination.

My grandfather had an old red barn built during the American Depression of the 1920s and it served as an inspiration for two stories, Artie’s Old Barn and JackOBones, both included in my multi-genre book Storytellin’: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas .

 

OldRedArkbarn

June 6th, 1944 D-Day

Artie "Jack" Cotner, England, one week prior to D-Day Invasion of Normandy

Artie “Jack” Cotner, England, one week prior to D-Day Invasion of Normandy

It seems appropriate to use this date as the first post to my new blog.

On this date in 1944, my father, Artie C. “Jack” Cotner was a radio-gunner on the famous “Dee-Feater”, a B-26 Marauder and part of the Allied Invasion Force at Normandy.

I have written of his experience on that day in a chapter of my book Storytellin’: True And Fictional Short Stories Of Arkansas explaining how, according to his Group’s Historical Record, my father was the only known enlisted man in the U.S. Army Air Corps to make two bombing runs over France that day.

Here’s a picture of his plane with D-Day Invasion Stripes on the wings.

DeeFeaterB26BomberWW2