I think it is no coincidence that the two men who most profoundly impacted my interest and passion in preserving the history of WW2 were born on the same day. Les Womack and Peter Scott, my two English Grandpas. Today would have been their 95th and 92nd birthdays.
I was 14 when I met them. It was my first time in Normandy, France.
Gramps Womack was staying at our hotel on Juno Beach. He had the loveliest lilting Yorkshire accent and was the ultimate gentleman, proud of his service in the British Army during WW2.
Grandpa Scott was touring the D-Day beaches with his Navy chums. He was a "refined cockney," whose years in the Royal Navy had left him with a swagger and a brilliant sense of humor.
Shortly after, between emails, letters, and phones calls, they became my adopted English Grandpas.
Both Gramps Womack and Grandpa Scott were simply the most wonderful to me, and I was very close with them. I have rarely written about them here, partly because the loss of both is still fresh, and partly because sometimes the most precious aspects of our lives are also the most private. However, I will say emphatically that I don't know what my life would have been without them. Certainly, there would be no Operation Meatball.
To have one adopted Gramps is a special thing. But to have unique and separate relationships with two Gramps across the ocean is something I would never have dreamed of being blessed with.
I think of them every day, but especially today. . . on their birthdays.