June 6th marked the 79th anniversary of the D-Day land invasion to end World War II in the European Theater. To most Americans, it is a day of remembrance that comes and goes each year. To us, it is very personal.
My father, Pfc. John H. Tudas, went ashore in the first wave with the 8th infantry regiment of the 4th Infantry landing on Utah Beach. He would talk about riding in the rough seas in the Higgins boat and the anxiety among the men prior to the ramp dropping.
After facing the challenge of getting dropped off 2,000 yards from the intended drop zone and facing enemy fire they then had to fight their way through the flooded hedge rows for months.
I am fortunate to have all my father’s letters that he wrote home that give a slight glimpse of what it was like although all letters were inspected so no details could be given out about the location or any type of action that was taking place.
There were small snippets about the weather, beauty of the countryside, demeanor and youth of some of the prisoners of war and the hope that this would all end soon. Little did he know that the Battle of the Bulge and the Hurtgen Forest still lay before him.
As bad as D-Day was he spoke about how bad the weather was and how desperate the German army was for these last two campaigns of the war. He also spoke about how difficult it was to obtain food and other supplies. Despite all that was going on, what always gives me pause is that his letters always remained upbeat.
One fact that is often missed is that once the war ended in the European Theater on May 8, 1945, the men were brought back to the States for some rest and relaxation but were told that they would be needed in the Pacific as the war was not over.
Fortunately, the war ended in the Pacific Theater on August 15, 1945, and their war was finally over.
My father loved our country and saw firsthand the price that many paid for our freedom.
I wanted the Normandy name to be a long-lasting tribute to him and to all that served our great country and preserve the freedom that we are so privileged to live under.