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Stories To Tell Part 2: John Nordenmeyer

Discussion in 'What Granddad did in the War' started by Smiley 2.0, Aug 18, 2017.

  1. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    Before meeting Mr. Nordenmeyer, I had been misinformed about some details about his service. I learned through our conversation that he did not land on Omaha beach but had seen it from a distance on board an ship. However this did not lessen the story he was to tell me nor did it ever lessen the honor of getting the chance to meet him. He told me and apologized during our conversation that his memory of June 6, 1944 as well as about his service has faded a lot. He told me that he can recall some details but not a whole lot. Mr. Nordenmeyer joined the navy sometime after war was declared. He had joined the navy through the encouragement of his father who had fought during the First World War. He had told Mr. Nordenmeyer that the navy was 'better.' He wanted to be on a PT boat, but they were in need of medics and sent him to medical school. He told me that they had learned almost every aspect about medical stuff such as X-Rays, how a hospital works, what instruments they needed, etc. When he got to Britain he was put on board LST 533. When we got to discussing D-Day, he told me that he didn't understand the significance of that day until later. "I was just a medic." he said. "I didn't know what was going on. I didn't know what D-Day was." Some of the details that he remembered about that day was that it was sunny. He remembered seeing destroyers shelling German positions and seeing the Air Force fly over and drop so many bombs on the beaches. "Killed everything in my imagination." he told me. He said that there couldn't have been a "rabbit" or "squirrel" living, but the Germans survived. I asked what he could remember about treating the wounded coming in from Omaha and he told me that the Lord has blessed him by blocking out his memory to a lot of those details. However he did mention that he saw, through the men that he treated, the power of the German machine gun. There was a lot of men that he saw going off in the Higgins boats and come back no much longer on stretchers. He described a bit of the process in treating the wounded such as cutting their uniforms and sterilizing their wounds with powder. A lot of his work included helping the surgeons as they treated the soldiers. He told me that whenever they asked for an instrument you had to immediately hand it to them with almost no hesitation. "I did what I was told." he said to me. "We treated every man that came on that ship." When it came to treating the men they had all the equipment that they needed and they had the best surgeons. Out of curiosity I asked if he ever treated any German soldiers and he said yes. He treated them like any other soldier he told me. There was no bitterness for they were kids like he was (Mr. Nordenmeyer was 19 I believe at this time); the only difference was that "I hated Hitler." When it comes down to what he did as a medic and probably helped save the lives of many men, he is always humble about it. "I don't see myself as a hero."
     
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  2. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    He actually boarded the LST 533 in New York on 18 March 1944

    LST533_WWII_MusterRoll1_18Mar44.jpg

    His destination was "Foxy 29", which seems to have been a special medical unit trained specifically for the invasion. To quote an un-cited quote from another forum:

    “Our unit was called Foxy 29. Foxy 29 meant that they had planned on using forty-five corpsman on each LST where they had an operating table on most except old ones. It so happened that they felt that the casualties would be so high that they had 20 hospital corpsmen on each LST.”

    He was promoted from HA2c (Hospital Apprentice 2nd Class) to HA1c aboard the LST 533 effective 15 May 1944:

    LST533_WWII_MusterRoll3_18May44.jpg

    He was probably transferred off LST 533 for training in England at some point, and then was returned to LST 533. Additional MRs show him aboard through 10 Oct 1944:

    LST533_WWII_MusterRoll5_17Oct44.jpg
     
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  3. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    Here are the two main pages from the brief War Diary of LST 533:

    LST533_WD_WWII_Page_2.jpg LST533_WD_WWII_Page_3.jpg
     
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  4. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    TD thank you so much for this information!!!!!!
     
  5. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Thanks for posting this one in particular and these in general.
    Somehow I think many of those he treated might disagree with him on the above. IMO the country (and indeed the world) was fortunate to have men such as him.
     
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  6. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    Well said. I couldn't agree more.
     
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  7. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Patron  

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    Truer words were never spoken. Medics were all over the battlefield and, while they were afraid, they did their job. Hats off to them.
     
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  8. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    I got a call from my dad earlier this morning informing me that Mr. Nordenmeyer passed away peacefully last night. He told me that in the time before he passed on he got to play bridge with some of his friends, so he was able to spend his last bit of time doing something that he enjoyed. My dad said that the family is very grateful to the Bayley which is where my dad works as well as to me for my interest in his story. It was a tremendous honor to speak with him and I will forever remember what a kind and honorable man he was.

    Cheers :poppy::poppy::poppy:,
    Dave
     
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  9. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Patron  

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    While I am saddened to hear of the passing of Mr. Nordemayer, it is important to remember that you were instrumental in documenting his role in WW2. The fact that his family is grateful to you is important. Thanks for listening to him and recording what he said. I feel sad and content at the same time. RIP :poppy::salute:
     
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  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well said. Really brings home how fast we are loosing the last of these veterans.
     
  11. TD-Tommy776

    TD-Tommy776 Man of Constant Sorrow Patron  

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    Dave, I can't really add much to what you, Lou, and lwd have already said. Thank you for bringing their stories here where others can learn and remember the sacrifices these men made so that we can enjoy Freedom and Liberty today.

    Be at peace, Mr. Nordenmeyer. :s!: :poppy:
     

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