Bill and Peg Return to Normandy

Bill (93) and Peg H. (94) are an incredible couple who currently reside at the Edina Park Plaza in Edina, Minnesota. Bill and Peg have been married for 70 years, and can still be found holding hands every day. Bill and Peg’s Wish of a Lifetime was to be able to travel back to Normandy, France – where Bill stormed Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944 – with their great-grandson Liam and other family members. This will give Bill a chance to reconnect with the people he lost on this day, and to demonstrate to his great grandson the significance of what being a true hero really means.

When Bill was deployed for training at a top-secret Army Ranger School in England nearly two years prior to the infamous D-Day, Peg was frightened for the outcome. For almost two years during his training, she was unable to speak to him. The Ranger school restricted all communications going in and out, and the location was unknown. Bill landed on Omaha Beach with the 29th Division 116th Infantry at approximately 4:30 AM on June 6, 1944 aboard a landing craft. The ferocity of the waves jostled Bill’s landing craft causing members of his infantry unit -including their medic- to drown before reaching the beach. On Bill’s journey from landing craft to shore, he saved a Naval Officer from drowning, and was later presented with a Bronze Star for his valiant effort. Peg, waiting anxiously at home, found out weeks later that Bill had survived D-Day.

Bill’s infantry was supposed to land at “Dog Red” on Omaha Beach, but the waves caused them to drift about 50 yards away from this point. Within moments of landing, the enemy had identified the Military Officers by the colors of their uniform and shot and killed every single one. Bill can still remember trying to save the life of his Sergeant who suffered a fatal wound to the leg. This was a memorable experience since this particular Sergeant had just saved Bill’s life. Although Bill had joined the 111th Artillery Battalion, he went in to battle with the 29th Division 116th Infantry for D-Day due to the fact he was a Liaison Officer between the infantry and the artillery. The men of the 116th Infantry referred to Bill as their “good luck” charm, as they were always able to prevail when he was there. He was not reunited with the love of his life until May 8, 1945 – VE Day. Bill received several Bronze Stars and two Purple Hearts for his valiant service in both the Second World War and the Korean War. Today, Bill and Peg remain active volunteers. They spend a majority of their time volunteering with their church. They have set up fundraisers at the church and Bill taught pre-school for several years. They love being able to give back to those in their community.

Wish of a Lifetime and Brookdale made Bill and Peg’s wish a reality by sending them to Normandy, France on May 4, 2013. The couple met their granddaughter, her husband, and their great grandchildren Liam, Aisleen, and Riley in Paris before they embarked on a journey through the footsteps of the 29th Division on May 7, 2013. Bill and his family toured Omaha Beach, the D-day Museum, St. Lo (the city his battalion took over), and the American Cemetery. Bill was made an honorary citizen of St. Lo and was also able to partake in the lowering of the flag ceremony at the American Cemetery. At the American Flag Ceremony, there were lines of people wanting to shake his hand, thanking him for his service. Bill was able to portray to everyone the victories and hardships he overcame while fighting for his country. This was a day that Bill had dedicated to the Sergeant that saved his life but had perished with the other brave men on the shores of Normandy. Bill, Peg, and their family will never forget this experience.

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May 4, 2013