A CAPE CODDER AND OMAHA BEACH She told me her new husband is a veteran of WWII and older than she. I told her I would like to meet
him sometime . Maybe when he can accompany her to the Deli.
The Deli is a coffee shop in Sandwich , Massachusetts , where people meet
in small groups for coffee and conversation. This was how I met and conversed with John McPhee.
John is more than just a veteran of
WWII. He is a veteran of the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach. At the Deli, I didn't learn much more than that about him. I did learn
he was a member of the First Division because I asked him about the flag he displayed in his front yard and he told me it was the
First Army Division flag.
At a subsequent gathering , I asked him if he would be a guest speaker at our Friday Men's Club. As program
chairman, it was my responsibility to arrange for luncheon speakers. He agreed and this is what we learned while we sat there for
about an hour and heard about his experiences. Since most of the club members are also veterans of WWII, we listened with rapt attention
and for the first time nobody dozed off.
John described the training for the invasion in England, which he and most of his buddies
thought was so intense, the real thing couldn't be that much worse. He remembers Eisenhower speaking to the group and telling them
that there was a good chance the guy standing next to them wasn't going to make it.
He was assigned to carry ammunition on his back
and was thus known as a mule. A mule was a soldier who was loaded with supplies to be used by the troops who would follow the initial
landing. They expected to find the supplies on the beach next to a body. His pack was in addition to his own weapon and gear. At the
time he was nineteen and weighed about 130 pounds, much less than the weight of his pack and gear.
He heard the bullets splattering
off the landing ramp of his landing craft. He went over the side and was pulled under the water. After a few minutes he found himself
washed up on the beach. He was being shot at and saw the bullets spraying the sand and the water around him. He struggled with his
pack and gear and crawled along over the bodies of those who preceded him. He was hit by some bullets and he described the pain and
feeling of that experience. Wounded, he crawled further, without the mule package, and noticed a crater ahead . A soldier came out
from the crater and pulled him into it where he was temporarily safe.
" Where you from, soldier?"
" So am I, where in
Mass? I'm from Brockton."
" Cape Cod. "
John was evacuated to England and admitted to a hospital for treatment of his wounds.
how I got to know John McPhee of Cape Cod.