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Huckleberries Online

Fri., June 6, 2014, 9:28 a.m.

D-Day memories

Seventy years ago, Ben Brooks landed in Normandy on D-Day. While telling a story about meeting U.S. Army Gen. Omar Bradley on the front lines, Brooks demonstrates the salute he gave the general while standing in his foxhole. Colin Mulvaney, photo

On a Sunday morning in the autumn of 1944, Idaho native Ben Brooks settled into his foxhole in liberated Luxembourg to write a letter while the rest of his squad attended Mass.

A range-setter with the 457th Coast Artillery Battalion which had landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day a few months prior, Brooks described what happened next as his “greatest experience in the Army.”

“I hear this voice, ‘Who’s in charge around here, son?’ ” Brooks, 90, said last month at his home near Manito Park. “And I raised up and looked out, and Christ, here’s three goddang stars.”

Brooks, a 21-year-old draftee who’d left a comfortable job in Seattle to train and fight in World War II, was staring back at Gen. Omar Bradley, commander of more than 1 million soldiers in the Allied push east to Berlin.The meeting with, as Brooks described, the “first-class gentleman” who would later serve as the first chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff is just one in a series of 70-year-old memories. Brooks recalled his trek from the beaches of Normandy through the Battle of the Bulge and all the way to Adolf Hitler’s chalet. Kip Hill, SR

I feel blessed to have been able to interview dozens of WWII vets.Their stories are priceless.

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Cindy Hval
Cindy Hval is a freelance columnist for the Voices neighborhood sections. Her Front Porch column appears twice a month in the Thursday Voice.