My story about D Day on the front page of the June 6 Daily News caught the attention of Don McKinley.
He let the Daily News know of one man who was there but wasn’t listed in the story. That man was John Richard Green, with whom Don worked at the Union Bank Insurance offices.
McKinley remembers Green as a fun loving and interesting man.
“John told me a story about that day in June 1944 when he was the first man off the boat,” McKinley said.
Don told how Green went off the boat and into water over his head. The big man behind him pulled him out of the water.
“John was a great friend and a natural salesman. Then he moved to Rushville and after a while we lost touch,” McKinley said.
John Richard Green was born Sept. 5, 1925, in Gwynneville. His parents were James Cyrus Green and Mary Sefton Green. He graduated from Greensburg High School in 1943 and joined the United States Navy. He was trained as a Hospital Corpsman and was assigned to the 6th Naval Beach Battalion, attached to the US Army 1st Infantry Division for the Normandy Invasion.
John landed on Omaha Beach on the morning of D Day, June 6, 1944, for which service he received a Bronze Star and Combat Medical Badge, French Croix de Guerre, and the Presidential Unit Citation.
In 1947, he married Martha Ellen Holtzlider of Greensburg.
John worked as a field adjuster and became partner and part owner of an independent insurance agency in Rushville. He died in 2018.
Sara Ernstes Amrhein found the story of Decatur County’s participation in D Day or soon after most interesting, but said her aunt Kathryn B. Ernstes-Bailey was also on duty during the D Day battles and the invasion on the beaches of Normandy.
Ernstes-Bailey received the rank of Captain of the 25th General US Hospital located at the European Theater.
She was born Oct. 26, 1915, the daughter of Lawrence B. and Christina Ernstes.
She married Raymond Bailey at the St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Greensburg.
Ernstes-Bailey graduated from Greensburg High School in 1932 and later received her Bachelor Degree in Nursing and her Master’s Degree in Art Appreciation.
On June 8, 1942, she enlisted in the US Army working her way up to Head Nurse. Kathryn served from 1942 until 1946, serving in World War Two on D Day, and was in charge of 1,000 beds during the invasion.
She received the rank of Captain in the 25th General US Army Hospital located at the European Theater.
She kept a journal of her time in the service. The following are bits of the journal:
6 June 1944 at 6 a.m. I awakened to the ominous sound of plane after plane passing overhead. We had heard them all through the night. In fact, and at seven a.m. we got the news broadcast that the (?) had been invaded - D Day! Our feelings are a bit scrambled at this point - a sense of relief mingled with dread and apprehension for what our men are going into. Meantime, we wait, and train and hope and pray.
(No entry until June 9, 1944)
June 9, Another move, this time to tents with our men at Harsh Hill. We came down on Saturday afternoon to this bleak, dreary, windy Salisbury plain. To live the” life rugged.” The tents are the Pyramidal type, five of us to each, we have cots with straw mattress - no floor, no heat, but it is not too awfully cold. Our combat jackets and part-wool underwear are perfect, as there is an almost constant, cutting high wind. The latrine facilities are very crude and our adjustments to that was a bit difficult. But we can “take it” - I reckon. It surely will not last long, and this will get us toughened up.
(No entry until July 9, 1944)
9 July, 1944 Life in the ETO Or CTO. We are at Pale House (?) near Tidworth, having moved up here from “Harsh Hill” two weeks ago. This is a better location; our tents are not in a small pine grove and there is not that continuous high wind from the plains. We are still waiting, training, living out as we are is not bad, though there has been quite a bit of rain and on those days we are hard put to keep happy in a tent with five other people. Even those as nice as my tent mates. ....By way of comment on the weather while we were camping out, the official British record states that this past June was their worst for cold and gloom since 1922. That we can testify to.