Letter to the Editor

Andy Rooney's experiences in Normandy

Thursday, January 3, 2019

Until June 6, 1944, our neighborhood was filled with all branches of the armed forces.

It was D-Day almost 75 years ago. Now in 2019, I find myself reliving that time while reading “Andy Rooney My War,” published in 1995, and 2000 by Essay Products.

Andy was drafted after his junior year in college. He was sent to England and experienced being in bomb shelters during the “blitz.” His attitude about it was quite negative until he began writing for “Stars and Stripes,” a publication written for the armed forces.

He obtained the rank of sergeant. Then Rooney ended up traveling in a jeep that he obtained in England. It was coated in oil to keep it from rusting. The jeep transported him over the farmlands of Normandy, France.

Farmhouses there had stone walls and stonewalled barns. German soldiers hid in them and shot American troops. Normandy’s farms were divided by hedgerows.

These were 6 to 20 feet high, 5 feet thick and made of roots that twisted around dirt and stone. German gunners leaned up against them.

They were barriers to men and guns. German gunners poked their rifles up over the top of them.

Their bodies were protected. Invading American soldiers couldn’t see them and made easy targets.

As well as hedgerows, the farms had narrow dirt roads only wide enough for a horse-drawn wagon, resembling ones that we have in some locations in Nebraska.

American and Allied Forces were killed walking past the hedgerows. Tanks traveling along them were in grave danger.

Their noses would tip over backward. As tank drivers gave them more power, their crews trapped inside.

My uncle, who was in the infantry, was happy to reach Belgium alive. He had another harrowing experience marching through the Black Forest in Germany. It was landmined from one end to the other.

Contrary to our picture of the average German soldier, who was dedicated to being in the army of Adolph Hitler, many were forced to serve.

One of them handed over his pistol to Andy Rooney, who had captured him, without any regrets.

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