father, Donald E. Yapp, was in the Big Red One, 1st Division, 16th Infantry, G
Company storming the Easy Red sector led by commander Joe Dawson during the
first wave. Some of his friends were Sergeant Ed Tatara, Joseph Pilck, Laverne
Smith, Lawrence Krumonacher, and James Krucas. My dad never talked about the war
nor his experiences to his children until I was an adult around age 30. I
remember when he got the big packet from Steven Ambrose during the mid '80's,
but even with the long period of time the vets had to complete the packet my dad
never once took a look at it. We simply could not convince him to look into it.
We had to respect his privacy and inability to take himself back to those
Luckily, one of his friend's son decided to write an Essay about G Company on
D-Day as part his History Class at Yale University in 1994. He came to visit my
dad, Joe Dawson, and several others over a period of months to collect
information. So, I now know his movements in large part.
His friend, Sergeant Ed Tatara, used his bangalore torpedo to shoot a hole in
the barbed wire which allowed the men to move off the beach. My father was one
of a few men with Tatara and Dawson who moved across the minefields, made the
ascent up a narrow path perhaps made by animals and dealt with the Germans in
the pill box above. He was decorated for extraordinary heroism pinned on him by
General Eisenhower in a private ceremony for the 16th Regiment on July 2, 1944.
He somehow survived the onslaught that day and for another 120 days pushing
inland through the French countryside before he was hit by a German sniper in
his gun belt sending shrapnel throughout his body. This young German soldier
didn't shoot him on site; rather, he plopped him over his shoulder and carried
him until he saw a wheel barrow to place him in and wheeled him to the German
army's makeshift hospital set up in a barn.
My father had a very rich wartime history escaping death many times. He was
shuttled around to numerous prisoner camps until liberation day. At 79 lbs. and
gangrene set in his legs he was racked with infection in over 150 leg ulcers. He
was ultimately rescued by the German farmer whose land was being used for a camp
by secretly taking him to the Catholic Hospital in Neumarkt-St. Veit. There the
German Doctor, Dr. Fritz Kobl, and his nurses hid him away, fed and treated him
which saved his life in the weeks before liberation day.
He passed away in 2002.