The North Bend Eagle


D-Day 50
In June 1994, 50 years after D-Day, Toad Kruger and Dick Leftwich returned to the site to relive memories. They are looking at a map of the battle. Both men landed on Omaha Beach, Kruger three days after D-Day, Leftwich on June 7.

D-Day remembered 75 years later

Mary Le Arneal
Published 6/5/19

The 1944 photo above shows what young men faced as they prepared to land on Omaha Beach in France.

June 6, 1944, World War II has been going on for five years. The D-Day plan was the largest amphibious invasion in military history. The plan involved 160,000 infantry soldiers and several thousand planes, ships and landing craft in a massive armada across the English Channel.

Ultimately, the Allied troops prevailed leading to the end of the war.

But what about those at home? People with loved ones in the military. Young people who listened to the radio nightly to hear of the war, or went to the cinema to see news reels about what was going on.

Many youngsters had current events at school and news of the war was often brought. But this was June. Kids were not in school. There was a flood and that was the big news for farm kids.

Gene Minarick, 93, was a 1943 North Bend High School graduate farming with his dad in June 1944.

“We had a big flood at the same time,” Minarick said. “Our electricity was out. We had to go to a neighbors’ who had a battery radio to hear the news. We knew about the invasion, then the power went out. It was on the nightly news. It was really something.”

Minarick had a first cousin in Germany and his brother, Francis, was in the Pacific.

“So we were really concerned,” he said.

Irish Krepel, 87, was a boy of 12 when D-Day happened. He said war news was always on all the time.
Krepel remembers hearing about the war on the radio and seeing news reels at the movies.

“Always news reels about the Japanese,” Krepel said. “That’s the way we found out anything. None of us ever left town.”

Bonnie Wennekamp, 84, was 9 years old in 1944. She said her family listened to the morning news on a battery operated radio. Her mom was concerned for a brother stationed in France, and her grandfather for relatives in his native France.

“It was a very worrisome time to the people of the United States and other countries,” Wennekamp said. “Everyone wanted peace.”

John Wilson, 87, was a 12-year-old in Exeter. There was a air base for training bomber planes six miles from his home.

“There were hundreds of them. I was fascinated with the airplanes, I remember that.”

There was also a German POW camp nearby and he was scared of the Germans getting out and coming to his farm when he was doing chores.

“The war had been going on for three or four years,” Wilson said. “It was kind of like another day of war, nothing stuck out in our minds (about D-Day). I’m kind of ashamed to say it.”
Wilson does not have any specific memories of D-Day, but does remember V-J Day, when Japan surrendered.

Doris Cerny Mehaffey, 87, was 12 years old in 1944. She was living on a farm outside Schuyler with her family. Her parents took the daily Omaha newspaper and she kept a scrapbook of clipping of the war news, but she doesn’t know where that book is now.

She remembers relatives the “wrong age” to serve, hired men and hired girls who went to war and didn’t come back and black outs.

“We could hear the sirens in Schuyler when there was a blackout and we turned out our lights,” Mehaffey said.

She also remembers rationing where you needed stamps to get certain items.

“As a kid, what we missed more was the sugar,” Mehaffey said. “We had meat and grew vegetables. Grandparents had bees, so we had some interesting desserts.”

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