Joe, please excuse my penmanship, I have to write slowly because of arthritis in my wrists and fingers.
Also, I have a favor to ask. Ever since I have returned from our St. Louis reunion, I have searched everywhere for my
certificate of the "Croix de Guerre." I know I had it, but my wife and I cannot find it. We spent most of March
searching every container and box upstairs and downstairs, including the basement. My wife doesn't remember when
she saw it last, and I am at a loss trying to remember when and where I saw it last. We even searched through our
safe deposit box, where I keep my stamp collection, but, nowhere alas is my certificate. Please, advise me. Who can
I write to? Is it possible to get a replacement? Should I just forget it? My wife says that I have done without it
this long, forget it! But, I am sure my grandchildren would be pleased to view the certificate some day. I have nine
grandchildren, two great grandchildren.
I hope you find my recollections useful and of some value. I wish you the blessing of Our Lord in all your endeavors.
Sincerely, I am
Albert P. Seychel
Royal Oak, Mich, 48073-3057
P.S. Joe, just so you know, in the letters I wrote to Mrs. Murphy and Mrs. Merideth, I never mentioned the horror of
their death. Simply stated, I wrote they did heroic things, which they did, and when killed, they died instantaneous,
without discomfort of any kind.
February 3, 1998
Thank you for all the material you so thoughtfully sent to me. I know this was at a great expense to you. All the
material served to remind me of "D. Day" so long ago, but my memory retention is not good. I remember going across
the Channel, not much sleep, and a lot of guys getting seasick. On the day of the landing, We, C-8 [C-7] platoon,
were on the left side of the LCI(L), [#89] to go down the left ramp. [8:30 A.M]. I was behind John Daly and fifth
in line. When we were told to "hit the beach," John Daly was hit in the upper thigh area near the groin, and said
he was "hurt," but jumped in the water anyway. I jumped in behind him, and we sank into water over our heads. We
both instinctively inflated our life belts, and surfaced. He was now without his part of the radio and backpack,
and complained of an ache in [the] leg, (I knew not which leg, and again my memory fails me as to which one).
I helped him swim ashore to the beach. All this time tracer bullets could be seen and explosions everywhere.
We managed to crawl up steel X frame for protection, and John proceeded to use his first aid kit to patch up
his wound. I remember that he was very calm. I remember a lot of beach area was between us and the higher
ground area of the beach where a lot of our soldiers were grouped. When we finally got there we met up with
our platoon, Murphy, Merideth, Allison, Lynch, Onines, and some others. Our corpsmen were busy patching up
the wounded all over the area. Allison, a signalman, had been injured, and lost all his signal equipment,
backpacks and gun. An Army machine gun crew was put out of operation from injuries not 20 yards from us, so
Murphy went over to the machine gun and started to operate it until it was out of ammunition. Then he came
back and we were all laying together face down with explosions all around us. I was laying next to Merideth
on my right and Murphy on his right. A shell, possibly a mortar, landed and exploded between Merideth and
Murphy, killing them both, and blowing them back face up towards the water. The shrapnel hit me in the center
of my back, on my gun belt, tore the gun belt and stripped it from me, leaving me with only a two or three
inch cut on my back. I am sure it was Dr. Davey who patched me up. He was in a hurry, and I didn't get a write
up for the injury for a few days.
My only other remembrance of D-Day was at sometime in the afternoon we began evacuating the wounded. One soldier I will never forget. His left foot had been blown off, and I was carrying him to a small craft, he asked for a cigarette. I put him down, he lit up, I picked him up again, and he said, "I've got a terrible itch on my left foot, but that damn bandage is so big, I can't scratch my foot."
What we did for the next thirteen days is a blank. I remember a road being bulldozed up the sea-wall, a cemetery started up on top of the bluff, Prisoners of War being marched down to the beach, visiting some of the French farms, the farmers giving us eggs and bread.
In Feb. or March of 1943 at Great Lakes Naval Training Boot Camp, my Boot Company was assembled in a large room adjacent to, or in the Boot Camp Hospital. An officer proceeded to talk to us, telling us over, and over again, that now we were men, and as such, men were needed to volunteer for an experiment, and if we left the room without being a volunteer for the experiment we would not be considered a man. Needless to say, not one of our boot companies left. All volunteered. Our ages ranged from 18 to 20. Then each of us boots had a slight pinpoint liquid of Mustard gas on the inside forearm of one arm, and the same of Lucite gas on the other arm, same position. As I recall, both grew into large blisters in a very short time - two to four days. We were then returned to the same room, where several doctor looking persons examined the blisters, carefully broke them, and applied some sore salve. As we now understood what was happening, that the salves, or ointments were the experiment. My experience was that one of the blisters cured in six to seven weeks, just before our boot leave. But, the other became a very callous scab that remained for several months.
I did not use the blank tape because no one in my family, or friends had the proper equipment. Sorry. I hope whatever I managed to recall is of use to you. Thank you very much for all the material you sent me. I have gone over quite a bit of it already, and it serves to remind me of all the things that happened on D-Day, but I am sure that I suffered some sort of trauma, or "shell-shock," because my memory retention is so weak about what followed D-Day, mostly after Murphy & Merideth were killed. Murphy was a R.M. 1/c, our platoon leader, and had made the landing in North Africa. Merideth was my buddy. He was over six foot tall, a high school football star from Oklahoma City, nicknamed the "Galloping Goon," and would have had a college scholarship had there been no war. I was a five foot, five, 128 pound squirt. We buddied up, and were called "Mutt & Jeff."
I send our best wishes to you and your family. Keep the faith. My arthritis didn't act up too much. My writing looks decent today.
Sincerely, I remain your friend.
Albert P. Seychel
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