On a trip to see the D-Day sites along the Normandy coastline in France in January, Michael’s sister Anna and her husband Daniel (an Army Airborne soldier) happened to visit an eleventh century church in Commune d’Angoville-au-Plain.
The small town was looking for funds to restore the structure, and to provide support to festoon the memorial and care for it.
Overnight on June 6, 1944, paratroopers of the 101st Airborne descended on the village to take and control one of the roads so important to the outcome of the D-Day assault. The village became a scene of intense combat. Two 101st medics set up an aid station inside the church building, and then went out under fire into the streets and countryside to retrieve wounded Americans and bring them to the station for medical treatment. After a three-day battle, the village was finally secured into Allied hands.
A memorial featuring both a French and an American flag marks the event today. The church features stained glass windows portraying the costly liberation and the bravery of soldiers who carried weapons and first aid kits.
Most poignant are pews that still exhibit blood marks from the soldiers whose wounds were treated so many decades ago.
From a little child, Michael was fascinated by World War II. That his grandfather was part of the U.S. Army’s effort to liberate Europe in 1944-45 was a source of inspiration. Michael served his country in a civilian capacity in Iraq and Afghanistan, working in reconstruction on behalf of the American people and in generosity toward the people of those war-torn nations. His sister and brother-in-law’s Normandy experience would have resonated with him.
In early 2017, the Fund made a substantial donation to support this commemorative site.