D-Day training beach remembered - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

D-Day training beach remembered

March 10, 2006

Carrabelle, FL -- More than a quarter of a million U. S. troops trained for the D-Day invasion just 60 miles south of Tallahassee, Florida. This weekend they'll celebrate the 61st anniversary of that training. And for many of them, it's an emotional trip back in time.

There were songs and fellowship, drastically different from the memories these World War Two Veterans share. "When we operated the beach, why thousands and thousands of vehicles came across and troops," said Bob Dallas.

More than 200,000 soldiers trained for D-Day at Camp Gordon Johnston. Each year the group of Veternas that return to the amphibious soldier camp shrinks but the stories of those soldiers only grow. "We'd get in these boats and go out to Dog Island, make invasions of Dog Island, and one time you may have noticed, 16 men from our batallion drowned," said Martin Kruse, a Camp Gordon Johnston soldier.

Not all trained here. Herman Blumhardt was a German POW held in Carrabelle. He's given the museum his Iron Cross earned for fighting in Tunisia. He remembers his three and a half years at Camp Gordon Johnston with a strange fondness. "I was willing to change my job, I volunteered for that. I was almost two years working in the bakery at Camp Gordon Johnston, I liked it," said Blumhardt.

Whether it was service abroad or here in the states, these veterans believe its important to keep sharing the stories the good and the bad. "We can't ever forget that war, but the way things are going now it looks like we're going to be continuing in this kinds of a world," said Mary Britz, a WW II Army Nurse.

The amphibious soldier unit started and trained here in Carrabelle. This weekend is a homecoming for the fleet now based in Tampa. It's a chance to honor these veterans and keep their memories alive.

Anyone can participate in this weekend's reunion at Camp Gordon Johnston . The parade starts at 10:45 Saturday morning, and the Tallahassee Swing Orchestra will perform music from the 30's and 40's. For more information call 850-697-8575.

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