65 years ago today
My grandpa, Nick Fontana, landed on Utah Beach. He fought he way up the beach and over the seawall ...
finally making it to relative safety. Three days into the battle his best friend, Joe Tofinchio, was killed. (If you are a long-time reader of mine, you may recall that I've written about my successful search for Joe's family before.)
Grandpa had several close calls over the next few days. One that he's told me about many times is this: He poked his head up to get a look around and suddenly recalled one of his commanders drilling the men about keeping their helmets pulled down in the front at all times. He immediately pulled his helmet into the correct position and just at that second a sniper's shot bounced of his helmet. Had he not adjusted it when he did, that shot would have gone through the center of the forehead.
Just under three weeks into the Allied advance, Grandpa's unit was approaching the town of St. Lo. Suddenly a German grenade landed nearby. All the men ran and dove for cover. But do to an ankle injury he received jumping over a hedgerow a few days before, Grandpa couldn't get away quickly enough; the blast from the grenade knocked him flat and threw shards of shrapnel into his legs.
His injuries were severe enough that he was evacuated to Coventry, England to recuperate. It was there that he met my Grandma, Eileen Hunt. She was a gorgeous English/Irish redhead who did war work in a local factory. The photo to the left was taken in 1946 and given from Nick to Eileen, with a note on the back expressing his love. The rest, as they say, is history (or at least, the rest is a story for another day).
happily married since 1947
photo from November 2008