I posted this on Memorial Day on Facebook (back before I had a blog and still had an active Facebook account). It was probably the my favorite post on that platform, and so on this Memorial Day, I added it here as a constant reminder of a generation who didn’t stick their heads in the sand and fought against evil and oppression, no matter the location; no matter the cost.
During a trip to France a few years ago, I had the somber privilege of visiting the American cemetery at Omaha Beach in Normandy. While I was there, I happened to snap a few pictures of grave markers of North Carolinian servicemen who died during D-Day or its aftermath. With today being Memorial Day, I thought I would do some research to see if I could honor their sacrifice by learning a little more about them.
Paul Wesley Luffman (Service #34114785). Pvt Luffman was a soldier in the 4th Infantry Division, 12th Infantry Regiment. His unit spearheaded the assault at Utah Beach on D-Day. He was born on May 2, 1919 in Surry County, NC, the oldest of 5 children born to Royad and Lizzie Luffman of Benham, NC. He enlisted on June 25, 1941 at Fort Bragg, NC. He died in France as the result of combat on July 6, 1944. He was 25 years old. His grave can be found at Plot D Row 2 Grave 37, Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France.
James William Lookabill (Service #8297207) Petty Office 3rd Class Lookabill was part of the US Navy supporting the landings on D-Day. He was born on November 20, 1924 in Boone, NC to David “Frank” and Dorothy Lookabill, the oldest of 3 children. He was killed in action on D-Day on June 6, 1944 and was only 19 years old. One of his shipmates was another North Carolina native, Ralph Poole of Elizabeth City, NC. Lookabill and Poole had an agreement that if the event of the death of one, the survivor would visit the bereaved parents. Young Poole fulfilled his promise at his next leave and visited Lookabill’s parents in Boone in September, 1944. Lookabill’s grave can be found at Plot I Row 15 Grave 7, Normandy American Cemetery.
This was all information quickly gathered on the Internet in a couple of hours, and does no real justice to the brief lives of these young men. I have no way to know what was in their hearts or their last thoughts, what loves, dreams or plans they left unfulfilled when they died in 1944. We do know they left grieving families and died far younger than they should have. So to these and all the men and women who gave their lives and futures in the service of our country, I humbly thank you.