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Remembering D-Day's impact

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75 YEARS LATER: A model of a P-47 hangs in Dr. James Fall’s “war room” at his home in Marion. Fall was flying a P-47 when he was shot down and captured during the war.
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REMEMBERING: Marion resident Dr. James Fall looks at a book about World War II, which includes a story about his crash landing and captureafter D-Day. Fall flew a P-47.

BY Scott Fleener - ctreport@indy.rr.com

Today marks the 75th anniversary of the Normandy invasion codenamed Operation Neptune, better known as D-Day.

“I remember my grandparents were worried,” said Pete Jones, a local historian, who was 8 years old at the time of the invasion. “Because my uncle, their son, was part of the invasion and they didn’t know what beach he was on. It was a very quiet day.”

Jones said that his uncle, Pvt. J.P. Jones, went in on the second or third wave. His uncle received a bronze star and turned down any promotions and later returned to Wabash to be a businessman. He said his uncle never talked about the war but had one journal entry the day of the war – “Here we sit while the big guns pound the shore.”

Jones said that the morning of June 6, 1944 the doors of churches in Wabash remained open to the public so people could pray and the courthouse bells rang throughout the town. The Wabash Plain Dealer had an extra edition on that day and that a paper boy ran down the street, yelling, “Extra, extra!”

He said that he had classmates with fathers in the war and that it was hard for them to grasp.

“It was a sobering thing,” Jones said.

At least two Wabash men died during D-Day – Pvt. Grover Brothers was killed on the beach and Private Howard Young was killed in a glider attack, Jones said.

North central Indiana also played a role during World War II, according to Wabash Museum Collections Manager TJ Honeycutt.

Honeycutt said local business such as General Tire switched to making rubber for gas masks and o-rings, Honeywell began making periscopes for tanks and bombardiers, Container which started to do packaging and other business contributed to the war effort including one that may have made parts used on the boats that landed on the beaches of Normandy 75 years ago.

Members of the Wabash National Guard were sent where the Army needed them. One local man, Tech. Sgt. Herbert Urschel, was a glider pilot and was injured during D-Day.

Honeycutt said that Urschel was later killed in the Netherlands during Operation Market Garden – a failed Allied operation during September of 1944.

Marion resident Dr. James Fall was a P-47 pilot in the U.S. Army Air Corps. He was shot down a few days after D-Day and captured by the Nazis.

“Once I got home and looked at the roster of what happened to all the people I served with, I decided that I would do everything I can to perpetuate the memory of what actually happened in World War II,” Fall said.