The Liberty Gazette
October 16, 2018Ely Air Lines
By Mike Ely and Linda Street-Ely
Mike: I stood in quiet survey of the scene, cold water crashed on the shore before me. A faint murmur accented the air, emerging quickly into a crackling roar. In seconds, a French Mirage fighter jet screamed past, a hundred feet above the churning English Channel. The pilot banked hard north and disappeared in the distance. Silence returned.
From the overlook, a lush green carpet of grass spotted by immaculately maintained trees unfolded behind me. There, in perfect symmetry, ten thousand white marble crosses declared the war was over. Nothing competed with my contemplation except for that jet paying respects to the soldiers buried here.
To be present in the American Military Cemetery and Memorial in Normandy, the realization sinks much deeper. Touching the sand of Omaha Beach, one cannot fathom the terror and dedication of those who took part in this colossal undertaking. I stepped with humble reverence around the headstones, reading names; three hundred and seven are Known But to God. Over fifteen hundred names of sons who were never recovered or identified are etched in a circular stone wall. If they could, they’d speak of family, of going home.
Linda: It began on D-Day, June 6, 1944, when these brave souls spilled their blood for freedom. A relative of mine was one who joined those ranks less than a month later, on July 2, 1944 when the 487th Bomb Group dispatched two squadrons of B-24s to bomb the German V-weapon site. Cousin James A. Logan and his crew were among them. Returning from their mission they were shot down near Bethune-St. Pol, France. He was 23.
March 14, 1949 Logan was awarded posthumously the Distinguished Flying Cross and Purple Heart. The dedication states that he:
“Distinguished himself by extraordinary achievement as pilot of a B-24 type aircraft on an operational mission to Belloy-Sur-Somme, France. Near the target his aircraft was severely damaged and set on fire by anti-aircraft fire, causing it to veer sharply toward other aircraft in the formation, in a moment of great peril to himself and his crew, Lieutenant Logan remained at the controls and skillfully maneuvered the burning aircraft out of formation in order to prevent damage to other aircraft and injury to his fellow airmen. He stands in the unbroken line of patriots who have dared to die that freedom might live and grow and increase its blessings. Freedom lives and through it, lives in a way that humbles the undertakings of most men.”Cousin Logan and his co-pilot, Second Lt. Bruno Matika rode the aircraft to the ground, along with the radio operator, and three gunners. The navigator, engineer, and the tail turret gunner parachuted out but were captured, prisoners of war. Logan’s remains were brought home to Massachusetts but most of the others were buried at Normandy.
Mike: At sunset, life in the cemetery paused as two American flags were lowered from half-mast, and all who were breathing saluted or placed their hand over their heart for Taps. I whispered, “Thank you.”