Chicago Tribune

'I'd like to volunteer, sir': 75 years after D-Day, memories live on through oral histories

Just before parachuting into Nazi-occupied Europe, Fayette Richardson asked himself an existential question: "My God, Most Powerful, what am I doing here?"

The thought had to be on the minds of myriad soldiers on June 6, 1944. It was D-Day, the launch of a long-awaited campaign by the U.S. and British armies to free the nations of Western Europe that Hitler had conquered.

Mounted from airfields and ports in Great Britain, it was the largest amphibious assault in history. More than 155,000 Allied troops landed at Normandy, France, that day. Code-named Operation Overlord, it dramatically changed the course of World War II.

Seventy-five years later, the ranks have thinned of those who braved machine gun fire on French beaches that were marked on their maps with American names like Utah and Omaha. Richardson died in 2010. But fortunately for us and for future generations, he and other veterans kept diaries, wrote memoirs or recorded their recollections.

Oral history was in its infancy when Stephen Ambrose began tape recording D-Day veterans, observed Toni Kiser, assistant director for collections management at The National WWII Museum in New Orleans.

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from Chicago Tribune

Chicago Tribune3 min readPolitics
Dahleen Glanton: We Don't Hate America, Donald Trump. What We Hate Is The Mess You've Created.
Donald Trump has come to the conclusion that many Americans hate their country. That could not be further from the truth. Most of us love America. What we hate is that the president has taken it into the gutter. In other words, Donald Trump, the prob
Chicago Tribune3 min read
As Temperatures Soar, A New Federal Bill Aims To Protect Those Who Must Work During Extreme Heat.
CHICAGO - As temperatures soar this week with an excessive heat watch starting Thursday, James McHugh Construction Co. has a protocol for teaching workers how to handle and prevent heat-related injuries. "The heat has a cumulative effect on everyone.
Chicago Tribune3 min read
'Mai Tai Guy' Defends Himself After Swiping Home Run Ball From Kids: 'You Know The Rules Here'
CHICAGO - The first thing you need to know about "Mai Tai Guy" is why he calls himself Mai Tai Guy. "When I first started coming out here when I was 21, the beers were a buck cheaper than the Mai Tais," Mai Tai Guy said. "The beer is only 5% (alcohol