On D-Day, My Father and Wine

GeorgeIn college I spent a good deal of time studying World War II, and the European Theater in particular. One reason for this was my father’s involvement. He flew a P-47 out of England during the war.

I was thinking about my father today on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. I thought it might be good idea to re-post something I wrote 8 years ago on this blog in commemoration of the 62nd anniversary of D-Day. With gratitude to those who served and to my father:

Today is the 62nd anniversary of D-Day, the cross-channel invasion of Normandy, France during World War II that would lead to a victory in that war.

My father took part in the D-Day invasion as pilot of P-47. He, along with the rest of his squadron, was charged with attacking German supply lines feeding the front. On June 8 he was shot down, was able to safely crash-land his plane two miles on the German side of the battle line. He was nearly able to find his way back to the allied side of the battle before being captured and subsequently marched into Germany where he spent the rest of the war in a German prison camp.

My father was not a wine drinker. He was a Midwesterner who liked beer and bourbon. However, he did tell a story that centers on wine and that offers a glimpse into the ability of even enemies having empathy for one another.

It was Christmas Day, 1944. My father spent it in a prison barracks in Germany. He described the setting as simply cold and dreary. Life in prison camp was apparently monotonous not only for prisoners but for guards also. And over time, the guards and the prisoners became very well acquainted, viewing one another as simply soldiers doing their duty.

One guard, nicknamed “Popeye” apparently because he tended to squint in that Popeye sort of way, was particularly familiar with my father and the rest of his barrack mates. My father describes that 1944 Christmas night as quiet. The prisoners shared what goodies the red cross had sent in a paired down meal of graham crackers and chocolate…until Popeye made an unexpected visit.

My father used to tell it like this: “Popeye didn’t knock, didn’t announce himself, didn’t warn us but just banged open the door and stood there watching us for a moment. This was strange because he usually didn’t burst in on us but announced himself with a loud voice before he came in. He stood there and looked at us. He shut the door behind him, reached into his huge overcoat and brought out two bottles of German wine and gave us a big smile. Popeye and the rest of us sat down together and had wine together. I hadn’t had a drink in six months. It was the best wine I’d ever had.”

Years after the war my father would go to prison camp reunions. Popeye would travel to the United States to attend them too. And he was welcome.

The sixty-second anniversary of anything is not particularly important. However, today would be a good day to raise a glass of wine in honor of the soldiers who battled one another on D-Day.


Posted In: Personal


7 Responses

  1. Miki Finnin - June 6, 2014

    Tom, What a wonderful tribute to the Anniversary, your Father and all those who serve. Your Father’s story pricked my heart strings. Thank you for sharing! Miki

  2. determine how to Prevent Your Hair as a result of falling out in clumps | - June 12, 2014

    […] http://fermentationwineblog.com/2014/06/d-day-father-wine/#comments […]

  3. ralph lauren udsalg - June 21, 2014

    By mindfully sorting asymmetric crystals of tartaric acid by hand,ray ban brillestelDentium, k. Infantis,ralph lauren k?benhavn, and it could be B. Longum. In these gardens master planters nurture tea bushes with natural organic biomass and loving care. Only these tea gardens bring Twinpeak Tea. Our Organic Oolong Tea is considered to be one of the healthiest beverages available today. Cook the noodles in boiling water around 35 minutes until they are soft. Drain and place them aside. Put with 3

  4. Sherryl - August 17, 2014

    Hello! I just wanted to ask if you ever have any issues with hackers?

    My last blog (wordpress) was hacked and I ended up
    losing many months of hard work due to no backup.

    Do you have any solutions to prevent hackers?

  5. PKV - August 17, 2014

    At this time it appears like Expression Engine is the preferred
    blogging platform available right now. (from what I’ve read) Is that what you’re using on your blog?

  6. gucci bags - August 22, 2014

    Hi, I check your blog onn a regular basis. Your story-telling style is awesome, keep it

  7. roger vivier shoes saks - June 12, 2014

    Got deliveries arriving on your doorstep,roger vivier onlineOften tote bags will have a design somewhere, and a blank canvas back side. Adding fabric paint will brighten up your other bag. This lens features the stepbystep strategy of decorating your canvas tote bag with fabric paint. for a minimum of two competitors, on the contrary, each of our “box” showed solvable. In the fiesta’s hardest accuracy contest,chanel espadrilles cheap, Someone was right on the nose somebody in charge of ever. Two

Leave a Reply