U.S. paratroopers were the first wave of the assault on Normandy in June of 1944.
Wednesday on Fox News, reporter Greg Palkot presented a story about just such a man, Eugene Deibler, a native of Bradford.
Deibler, now 94, graduated from Bradford Area High School in 1942, and ended up moving to North Carolina, where he still lives. He is now a retired dentist, and went to Normandy for the first time since the D-Day assault on the 75th anniversary.
“U.S. paratroopers tried to catch the enemy unaware, but instead their planes ran into a massive barrage of gunfire,” Palkot said in the report. “One of those, getting ready to jump out of the plane into this living hell was then 19-year old Eugene Deibler.”
Deibler was briefly interviewed, and described having only about 10 minutes left in the flight when the plane started taking heavy anti-aircraft fire.
“And machine gun fire,” he said in the story, “you could see the tracers coming up. We were saying, ‘Let’s get the hell out of this plane!’”
When asked about people calling the men who stormed Normandy heroes, Deibler said the heroes from that day were the ones who are “lying in those graves” on French soil.
The website for NarroWay Productions in North Carolina features an article on Deibler in a segment called “Real Heroes from World War II.”
“Sgt. Eugene Deibler served in the United States Parachute Army from November 1942 through December 1945. He was a member of the 501st Parachute Infantry of the 101st Airborne as a squad leader in A Line Company and G Company, 501st Airborne.”
The site recounts information from the Airborne company about the first combat mission of the 501st — D-Day.
“The intent of the mission was to land approximately 5 hours prior to the sea landing. Low clouds and enemy aircraft caused the air formation to break up and led to sporadic jump patterns, causing most soldiers to land outside of their designated drop zones. Surprisingly, however, the botched landing confused the Germans and gave the Airborne troops time to regroup.
“Deibler was one of the troops who made the jump into Normandy that day. The dress that his wife, Mary (now deceased) wore for their wedding was made from the silk parachute he used on D-Day. It was donated to the Airborne Museum in Fayetteville, NC in 2011.”
Deibler served for 37 months during WWII, from age 18 to 21. He received the Bronze Star for action in Bastogne. In addition to Normandy and Bastogne, he also served in Holland and Alsace.
Following the war, he returned to North Carolina where he married, raised a family and earned degrees in Engineering and Dental Surgery. He continued to play the trombone, as he did while serving in the military, until 2013. He has been a prolific portrait painter and landscape designer and has studied and taught Bible classes, the NarroWay biography stated.