Thursday, June 6, 2019

75 Years Ago

Seventy-five years ago today, my grandfather's brother Charles Michael "Charlie" Thielen was a navigator in a bomber that flew missions over France in support of the D-Day landings. He wrote in a letter to his parents later that month: "In the Stars and Stripes for Wed June 7 you might be interested in column 1 page 1 the 2nd paragraph and in the 9th paragraph the last line."

The second paragraph in the Stars and Stripes' coverage of the D-Day bombing campaign reads:

"Between midnight and 8 AM yesterday alone, 10,000 tons of steel went cascading down on German targets on the coast of Normandy. In the same period more than 31,000 Allied airmen, not including airborne troops, dominated the sky over France."

The ninth paragraph, after discussing the first and second waves of the attack, ends with: "Another Nazi strongpoint was battered on the third mission."

Uncle Charlie wrote in a letter home on June 12, 1944: "Sure hope those Germans decide that they really are licked, as they are, and this war doesn't last much longer[...] Suppose there are a lot of anxious parents back there in the States now that the troops are fighting on the ground now in the European continent."

Uncle Charlie was killed in action when his plane was shot down just over a month after D-Day on July 11, 1944. He is buried at Normandy American Cemetery on the cliffs above the D-Day landing zone. Today I'm thinking of Charlie and wishing I had the chance to know him.