In honor of Memorial Day, I am re-publishing this post I wrote about my mom’s cousin, who ferried soldiers to the beaches of Normandy on D-Day.
I always knew him simply as Cousin Del, even though he was actually my mom’s cousin, not mine. He never married and took care of his mother until her death. After my family moved to Minnesota (in the 1970’s) he would turn up at various family functions. He was a pleasant (but quiet) man, with a witty sense of humor.
After his mother died, he stopped coming to family events and became a bit of a recluse. At first he would take phone calls from his cousins, but in recent years had even stopped doing that. Dropping by his home to say hi was definitely not appreciated. The cousins would occassionally drive by his house to see if the lights were on and the lawn mowed, 2 things that would indicate he was OK.
Cousin Del passed away in 2015, and the few remaining relatives and friends gathered at Fort Snelling National Cemetery last month for an interment ceremony.
In the last visit my mom, her sister, and a cousin had with him he told them (for the first time ever) that he had been captain of a landing craft on D-Day. All day long he transported soldiers from the ships to the beaches, back and forth, knowing that many of them were disembarking to their deaths, and knowing that he could be shot as well. This would have been his view.
The recluse cousin, it turns out, was a hero.
Thank you, Cousin Del.
And while I do not have any relatives who died in battle, I do have relatives who served:
My dad, who, even though he was in the Navy at the tail end of World War II, always joked that he never saw a ship!
An uncle who fought on Guadalcanal.
My father’s cousin,who flew bombing raids over Germany.
Sons of cousins who served in Iraq and Afghanistan
Thank you all for your service!