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Technical Sergeant Milton Staley, 90th ID, 06.06.44


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This is the account of the high spot of my recent visit to Normandy. My wife and I were sipping coffee in the Roosevelt Cafe which is just opposite the Utah Beach monuments. It's actually built around a German bunker which can still be seen today and which features in some famous WW2 stills as it has fake windows painted on it to disguise its true purpose (see pic)

 

The cafe itself is a well known landmark and is a rallying point for US Army vets who come to visit Utah Beach, the monuments and the museum. It is full of WW2 memorabilia and the walls are covered with the signatures of the many vets who have visited it over the years. Anyway....on with the story. As we were enjoying out coffee I noticed an elderly gentleman enter the cafe, accompanied by two other people whom I assumed to be his son and daughter. I knew immediately that he was a real "live" D-Day vet! He wore a vet's ball-cap with campaign ribbons to which was pinned a small enamelled Purple Heart, a DUI and a small lapel-sized enamelled Silver Star ribbon. He sat down no more than six feet away from me. I didn't want to intrude, but I just had to speak to him.

 

"Excuse me sir, but do I deduce from your cap that you're a visiting WW2 American D-Day veteran?"

 

He was! His name is Milton Staley, a native Minnesotan, age 93, and now residing in Northern California. During WW2 he served in the 359th regiment of the 90th Infantry Division, the "Tough Ombres", largely made up of men from Texas/Oklahoma. His Regiment was attached to the 9th Division for the assault on Utah Beach. He fought his way across Europe ending the war in Czechoslovakia before rotating back to States under the points system. During his military career he reached the rank of T/Sergeant, earned two Purple Hearts, Two Bronze Stars and a Silver Star! I felt it would have been impertinent to delve too deeply into how he'd won his awards...but I wish I had now! He also told me he was one of three brothers, all of whom served in WW2, one in the Armored Corps and another in USMC aviation. All survived the war.

 

I found him to be a charming, modest, kindly old gentleman. We chatted freely for about fifteen minutes before we had to move on. Meeting him was an honour and was the undisputed highlight of my week in Normandy!

 

When I returned home I "googled" him and found the links below. :salute:

 

http://triggertimeforum.yuku.com/topic/10387#.T9W5GrC0xXu

 

http://mayenne-ww2.forumactif.org/t1987-67...w2-en-normandie

 

 

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"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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T/Sergeant Staley with my wife and myself.

 

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"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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T/Sergeant Staley's signature on the wall of the Roosevelt Cafe...and the focus of his journey, the 90th Division monument.

 

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"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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The Roosevelt Cafe. The painted bunker can be seen behind me.

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"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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He's the "Real Deal'', and doesn't look a day over 70! :thumbsup:

 

 

Yes JS..."real deal" is right...and he's not looking too bad for a 93 year old!

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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I bet you could locate his address at one of the event venues or the newspaper that covered the event. OR google the 90th division web-site.

 

Roger that JS. The sadly dwindling numbers of bona-fide D-Day vets makes it a little easier to track them down these days via associations and VFW.

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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Yes JS..."real deal" is right...and he's not looking too bad for a 93 year old!

 

Ian,

 

Great story! It must have been amazing to talk to him! One thing that always impresses me is how well these WWII vets get along in their 90's! We recently had a 100 year old vet on an Honor Flight.

 

I LOVE the cafe and the signatures on the wall.

 

I can see why this was your favorite part of the week.....Kat

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Thanks Kat. I'd have liked to have spent more time chatting with him. The thing is knowing how much to ask without appearing to "pry"...if that makes sense? I would have loved to have learned how he earned his Silver Star but was reluctant to ask.

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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The thing is knowing how much to ask without appearing to "pry"...if that makes sense?

 

I understand exactly what you mean. I would LOVE to talk to them over and over and over again.

 

....Kat

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Yes indeed Kat. They have real stories to tell!

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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USMC-RECON0321

Ian,

This is just great!!! Nice Job. Do you know if this was his first time back?

USMC 2/2 Fox Co 0311 & 1st Recon Bn Delta Co. 0321. 1986 - 1995 (Desert Storm 90/91)

US Army Long Range Surveillance Co F 425th INF ABN LRS Team 1-6 2003 - 2005 (Iraqi Freedom 03/04)

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Ian,

This is just great!!! Nice Job. Do you know if this was his first time back?

 

 

Thanks Troy. I believe he might have been back at least once before, but I'm not sure precisely when.

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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Ian!!!! We got a new recruit, do you mean someone else here wants to HONOR old veterans!! :o

 

 

Yup...that makes FOUR of us now! :w00t:

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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  • 2 months later...

Milt is a truly wonderful guy and a good friend of mine.

His story is more amazing than just Utah Beach, he actually served in the Pacific first, was wounded, brought back to the US, assigned to the 90th and brought to Europe to land at Utah Beach!!!

"In almost all wars, the sight of foreign troops brought fear and terror to the local people, destruction and often senseless killing of local citizens. However, the sight of the American GI always brought smiles and joy to the local French people. They knew we were there to liberate, not to conquer; to help, not to terrorize."

Captain Leo T. Hury, M-Company, 330th Infantry Regiment, 83rd Infantry Division.

In honor of Captain Leo, March 19, 1920 - June 10, 2012

 

Profile picture: Pfc. John T. DiMauro, E Company, 331st Infantry Regiment

January 23, 1926 - KIA January 13, 1945 near Langlire, Belgium after 11 days on the frontline

 

Looking for anything related to the 83rd Infantry Division (1917-today)

Visit my personal website: www.normandytothebulge.be

Learn more about the 83rd Infantry Divison assocation at: www.83rdassociation.com

 

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It's a small world!

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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  • 2 weeks later...

That was a great read. Isn't Milton's surname actually Staley?

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All Airborne Troop Carrier items wanted especially uniform groupings and unit history books. Anything considered!!

 

Collector and researcher of IX Troop Carrier Command. Visit my Facebook page to see the research and collection.

 

http://www.facebook.com/IXtroopcarriercommand

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If it is, I owe him an apology for misreading his signature as written on the wall in the Roosevelt cafe!! :blush:

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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Don't worry, I did the same until Robin Vertenten corrected my photo on Facebook.

 

https://www.facebook.com/milton.staley

All Airborne Troop Carrier items wanted especially uniform groupings and unit history books. Anything considered!!

 

Collector and researcher of IX Troop Carrier Command. Visit my Facebook page to see the research and collection.

 

http://www.facebook.com/IXtroopcarriercommand

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Don't worry, I did the same until Robin Vertenten corrected my photo on Facebook.

 

https://www.facebook.com/milton.staley

 

 

Not just me then?! MODS: If you read this, can you correct the mis-spelling of Mr STALEY's name please? Thanks.

"We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches, we shall fight on the landing grounds, we shall fight in the fields and in the streets, we shall fight in the hills; we shall never surrender!"

 

Winston Churchill

" Life is what happens to you when you're busy making other plans."

John Winston Lennon

 

 

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