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Early Morning 42 Years Ago

June 06, 1986

Whenever I remember D-Day I feel again the aching sense of suffering and heroics that occurred 18,000 feet below me that early morning 42 years ago today.

The nights were much shorter in England than what I was used to growing up in Long Beach, so in order to get some sleep before the usual crack-of-dawn (or earlier) call for a bombing mission, it was necessary to close the blackout curtains to darken the room by shutting out the later evening light.

But on the evening of June 4, we were called out to get ready just before darkness was fully upon us. Unusual. The rumors circulated once more. After some night formation flying and speculating, we headed for our target along the coast.

It was a long day. Again it didn't happen. Just a rumor. Must wait again.

The next evening, June 5, we started early again. Same as the night before. Something was added to strengthen the rumor: All flyable aircraft were ordered up.

This was it, and we were so informed sometime before we took off to bomb the coast again just before the landings on the beaches were to begin.

All of us flew a second mission, and a few flew the third one. We stayed on the ramp between flights as the planes were refueled and rearmed, I was interviewed by the press between the first and second sorties.

Through the clouds we could see some of the action in the Channel. I remember very well seeing a battleship or cruiser firing the big guns and watching the large shells travel to the target. An awe-inspiring sight. The crews were very tired with so much time in the air, but the events of the day left us keyed up.

I hope the generations since will not forget the supreme sacrifice that so many paid that day so that we of today can have the freedoms we enjoy so much.

I am proud to have been able to be a part of the historic action on D-Day.

WILBUR RICHARDSON

Long Beach

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