Fundraising To Help Hard-Working Veteran Return To Normandy For D-Day Anniversary

Normandy coast, 6 June 1944.
Normandy coast, 6 June 1944.

After fighting for his country in the Second World War, 91-year-old Robert ‘Jack’ Ewald would appreciate some assistance to return to Normandy for the 75th anniversary of the D-Day landing, which will take place in June 2019.

His friends are appealing for funds, so he doesn’t have to fly coach class.

“Those seats in coach, after an hour it’s like sitting on a hard table,” he explained.

Ewald’s assistance wasn’t restricted to only WWII.  For the past five years, he’s been a volunteer at Sentara Obici Hospital in Suffolk, Va., visiting joint replacement patients weekly, an operation he once went through.

Orthopedic patient navigator, Tracey Stallard, says she asked Ewald if he would volunteer.  He’s been with them since the program began, she explained.  He inspires the patients.  “He’s a gentle, kind, encouraging person, who the patients admire not only for his attendance but also as a veteran,” she said.

He meets a lot of people in the hospital. Ewald said he is a people person, explaining why he visits regularly.

Ewald was 19 when he landed on the Normandy beaches with the 115th Infantry Division. He fought his way through the infamous hedgerows of Normandy but was captured in France after stopping to assist a wounded comrade-in-arms.

Taken to a POW camp in Germany, he was allowed to write to his family back home. His letter included some white lies.  Ewald wrote to his mother that he had gained weight but doesn’t think she bought it.

Ewald said the camp was eventually taken by the Russians who were going to move the former prisoners to the Black Sea area. He didn’t favor that idea so decided to break out.  So that there wouldn’t be a record of him in the camp, Ewald removed his file from a cabinet.  He still has the POW record among his papers, WAVY-TV reported.

Tracey Stallard said they’re attempting to raise awareness of Ewald’s problem with coach seats.  It would be wonderful if he could make the trip in comfort.

Ian Harvey

Ian Harvey is one of the authors writing for WAR HISTORY ONLINE