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.
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.
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.
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
May the world never forget their great sacrifice.