Veteran returns to Normandy
Like many other veterans, Dick Murnane’s D-Day experience lasted long after the June 1944 assault against Hitler’s Third Reich in World War II.
The longtime South Lake Tahoe resident attended a weeklong ceremony last month commemorating the 60th anniversary of the war’s turning point at Normandy in France.
At 79, it was the Seabee’s third time at the site. After the war, he visited Normandy in 1980 with his son, Rick, who pledged his support for his father’s military service. Last month, he returned with his son and two friends.
“We had a nicer time this time than we did (in 1980),” said Murnane, who characterizes the experience as emotional – especially at the cemeteries.
“You go to the graveyards and can’t help from crying,” he said.
Murnane, who was in the U.S. Naval Construction Batallion, lost two friends. He’s admitted to having survivor’s guilt.
Operating on the motto “we build, we fight,” the 3rd class petty officer in the 111th Batallion remembers the amphibious event that resulted in a twisted shamble of steel like yesterday.
“I had just turned 19. But we were so busy trying to do the job and stay alive. When you’re young, you feel you can do anything,” said Murnane, who stormed the beaches off a tug boat.
At one point, the tug came loose, sending it spiraling off on its own.
But now it’s a time of reflection for Murnane, who said it’s not necessary to thank him for his service.
“It’s just part of the service,” he said.
He plans to return again to pay his respects.
– Susan Wood can be reached at (530) 542-8009 or via e-mail at email@example.com