Obama’s Gramps: Gazing Skyward On D-Day 6/06/44 In England While My Father Robert Warner Was Jumping Out A Plane Over Ste. Mere Eglise France With The 82nd Airborne under heavy fire, Robert is buried in Sarasota Fl.
WASHINGTON — Surely, Stanley Dunham was gazing skyward 65 years ago, on D-Day. Dunham, the man whom Barack Obama would one day call Gramps, was a 26-year-old supply sergeant stationed near the English Channel with the U.S. Army Air Forces when the invasion of Normandy at last began.
Six weeks later, he crossed the Channel, too, and followed the Allied front across France. A year later, he was on track to fight in Japan when the atom bomb sent him home instead.
SARASOTA VET ROBERT WARNER WAS ONE OF FOUR WARNER BROTHERS AT D-DAY INVASION OF NORMANDY, ROBERT WARNER WAS A PARATROOPER WITH THE 82ND AIRBORNE AND DROPPED INTO STE. MERE EGLISE FRANCE AT 2:30 A.M. BEHIND THE NAZI LINES TO TAKE THE BRIDGES AND CUT OFF ANY NAZI COUNTER ATTACK AFTER THE INVASION BY SEA AT NORMANDY BEGAN AT DAWN, AND THEY DID.
After graduation fromhigh school, all the brothers enlisted in the armed services and served in World War II; three were involved in the Allied invasion of Normandy in 1944. Like so many World War II veterans, though, members of the local “band of brothers” have all gone to graveyards, every one.
U.S. Coast Guard veteran William Warner, who was the youngest and last surviving of the male siblings, died Feb. 18, 2007 at his home in Dearborn, Mich., a family member said. He graduated from Binghamton Central High in 1943 and was a retired executive with the Ford Motor Co.
William, 82, was one of two Warner brotherswho settled elsewhere after World War II. Harry, also a Central High graduate who died 11 months ago, moved to Dallas after he got married. James, the oldest brother, who died in 1991, and Robert came home to Binghamton after the war moving to Sarasota Fl in the early 1980′s.
At one time, James worked for Koehler Manufacturing Co., and Robert, who died in 1995 in Sarasota Fl, was a U.S. Postal Service employee. As each Warner brother died through the years — added to the deaths of all World War II veterans who are buried at a rate of 1,500 a day — the curtain continued to drop on an entire generation that changed culture and society after America’s defining war.
JAMES J. WARNER, 74, of Homosassa FL, formerly of Clearwater FL, died Tuesday (Nov. 19, 1991) at home. He was born in Binghamton, N.Y. in 1917, and moved to Clearwater Fl in 1985 from Naperville, Ill.
“Their stories are dwindling down to footnotes in history.” In its most recent report in late 2006, the U.S. Census reported 3.9million living World War II veterans, out of 16 million who served between Dec. 1, 1941, and Dec. 31, 1946.
The average age of living World War II vets is 83. In 13 years, the number of living World War II vets is expected to drop to 283,000. A SILENT GENERATION; Despite their honorable service records, the Warner brothers carried their combat experiences to their graves, said Robert’s son, Bill Warner, 59, of Sarasota, Fla.“Not one of them ever told me anything about it,” said Bill Warner who graduated from Binghamton North High School in 1964. “Not a word. Forget about it; it was something they had to do. They did it; that was it.”
That’s not unusual for combat veterans, said Vojtisek, especiallythe World War II generation,”You don’t hear specific stories about how horrific their experiences were. It’s locked in the back of their minds,” he said.”For that generation, that was how many of them dealt with it.
The first time Bill Warner watched the movie“Saving Private Ryan,” he understood why it was difficult for his father anduncles to talk about their war time experiences.”When I sawthe movie, I was stunned. I just never knew what itwas all about or what they had to deal with or exactly how horrible it was,” said Warner, who worked for Warehouse Carpet as the Advertising Director before moving to Sarasota in 1988.
The movie, “Saving Private Ryan,” followed a platoon looking for the one surving Ryan Brother of Four who was with the 82nd Airborne and had dropped into Ste. Mere Eglise on D-Day, eerily mimicking the story of my father Robert Warner who had also dropped into Ste Mere Eglise with the 82nd Airborne and had also been one of Four Brothers at D-day, the only difference is that all the Warner Brothers survived, see Ste Mere Eglise drop map below that was issued to the 82nd Airborne troopers on 6/6/44, it indicates that they dropped into Ste. Mere Eglise at 0230 a.m. under heavy fire, click on map below to enlarge.
“I wish they would have talked about it, Bill Warner said. “The movie, directed by Steven Spielberg, chronicled an Army rescue mission to find paratrooper Pvt. James Ryan and send him home after three of his brothers were killed in combat. Unlike the fictional Mrs. Ryan in the movie,Katherine Warnerdid not lose any sons in combat. Katherine, a house wife, kept four Blue stars in the front window of the family’s Schubert Street home to wait for her sons’ return. She and her husband, Harry, who worked for Endicott Johnson Shoe Corp., also had a daughter, Mary Ann Warner, who was a registered nurse. Harry died in the mid-1960s; Katherine lived in the Schubert Street house until the mid-1970s when she moved to a nursing home.
From air and sea, Allied troops invaded Normandy’s beaches on June 6, 1944, with 5,300 ships, nearly 11,000 airplanes, about 50,000 military vehicles and 154,000 troops. The strategy was to establish five beachheads as gateways into the German-occupied territory. The assault eventually opened Western Europe to Allied forces and turned the tide against Adolf Hitler.
* Army Pvt. Robert Warner, who was in his early 20s at the time, landed in Normandy (Ste Mere Eglise) with the 507th Parachute Infantry (82nd Airborne) on 6/06/1944. He had enlisted in April 1942 after graduation from the former St. Patrick Academy High School in Binghamton. A newspaper story reported him as getting injured in combat in 1946, although his injuries were not life-threatening. Robert Warner received the Purple Heart for his injuries on 3/24/1946, see the National Purple Heart Hall of Honor website, click here.
Purple Heart Recipient
Name:Robert F. Warner
Hometown:Binghamton, New York
Branch of Service:Army
Conflict:World War II 1941-1945
Date Wounded in Action:03/24/1946
Bill Warner remembered his father as a sports fan. “He was very sports-minded, a big Yankees fan, a big-time golfer,” he said.”When he was older, he was still shooting in the 80s at the Bobby Jones Golf Course in Sarasota Fl.” Robert Warner, 82nd Airborne Trooper, retired to Sarasota Fl in 1982 where he lived with his wife Betty until his death in 1995, he is buried in Sarasota Memorial Park his son Bill Warner is a private investigator in Sarasota Fl.
* During the invasion, Seaman William (Bill) Warnerwas stationed on a Coast Guard cutter (LST) in the English Channel. The wooden cutter and crew helped rescue Allied troops during the critical days of the invasion, according to a newspaper story in August 1944. Williamwas in his late teens at the time. After the war, he graduated from Binghamton University in 1951. He had attended Binghamton Central at the same time as science fiction writer Rod Serling.
* Like his brother Robert, Harry Warnerwas also in his early 20s at the time of Normandy. Harry was a petty officer aboard a Navy destroyer that guarded Allied vessels from Nazi U-boats. Afterthe war, he returned to Binghamton and married Elizabeth Ann Brink in November 1956. The wedding drew a lot of newspaper attention — even a pre-nuptial story about the attendants and the color scheme. The bride was the daughter of Broome County Judge Robert O. Brink. The couple moved to Dallas where Harry became an executive with the Equitable Life Insurance Co.
* Army Lt. James Warnerwas the first of the brothers to enlist. He began active duty on April 23, 1941, and served in England for 14 months with the Army Medical Corps. James, who was in his late 20s at the time of the D-Day invasion, probably arrived in the war zone after the initial assault. While he lived in the Binghamton area after the war, James once headed the Chamber of Commerce’s Business-Industry-Education program that connected high school students with local business and corporate leaders for a real-world learning experience.
“They are all gone now,” Bill Warnersaid. “An era has ended.