D-Day Ohio 2018


For the last 5 years, D-Day Ohio has been one of the most looked-forward-to events of the year. This year our annual trip to Conneaut, Ohio nearly didn't happen, but it was too important for us to miss!

Since 2014, we have built some beautiful friendships with the veterans who gather at this fabulous event each year. 5 years later, health and age has seriously shrunk the ranks of the veterans, and it is our last time seeing some of them. And so, though our time was short this year, the relationships we've made with our Ohio and Pennsylvania vets was without a doubt worth the trip!


R E E N A C T M E N T | Yes, D-Day Ohio is a reenactment and nearly 2,000 people come in period garb for the war years. But dressing in the style of WWII is also a helpful way of connecting with veterans. The clothing is familiar to them- maybe the dress you wear reminds them of a sister or mother, or in Honor's case, the same uniform and rank as their Navy days.


A  G R A T E F U L   N A T I O N  |  Four veterans received France's highest award, the French Legion of Honor. During the ceremony, a representative from France, Consul General of France Guillaume Lacroix, gave a heartfelt speech thanking the veterans for the sacrifices they made for his country. To be honest... sometimes the politicians who grant these awards tend to ramble on about a million different things. But this time, I was captivated by his sincerity and genuine. It was a beautiful ceremony.

To read more about the legion of Honor Ceremony, France in the United States
Consulate General of France in Chicago:


A  S I L V E R  S T A R | One of the happy surprises of Conneaut was to see my friend, Major Turner, again! Back in June, I went with the Major and The Best Defense Foundation to Normandy for the 74th Anniversary. Over the course of the 10 day trip, I was incredibly impressed by Major Turner. At 99, he is independent, strong, and always carried himself like a complete gentleman. 

During World War Two, Major Turner served as an Engineer platoon leader with the 2nd Armored Division in Europe. Though he tells everyone he fought the war from a jeep and never fired a shot, it should be known that he received the Silver Star for meritorious actions during a particular engagement with the Germans when he (then a lieutenant I believe) and his men were clearing a roadblock under heavy from the enemy. The Silver Star is the third highest medal that can be awarded a United States serviceman.


S U P E R  S E N I O R S | Richard C. is one of my favorite examples of a super senior. He is 87 and still rides his motorcycle from Ohio to Florida every fall. I'm sure his vibrant Italian personality has something to do with that.

He also carries photos with him from his time in Korea with the 8th Armored Division, 155 Self Propelled Gun [Tanker], because one time a lady told him he didn't look old enough. "And I most certainly was!" he declared.

I hope we can all enjoy our lives the way Richard does - to the max.


I N   C O M E S  T H E  C A V A L R Y | Anyone who has met Al Klugiewicz knows what I mean when I say he is a gem. 102 years old and he still drives (he got his license renewed at 100), he can sing you countless old Polish songs, play the ukelele, and I can always count on him for solid boyfriend and marriage advice.

Something else special about Al... he is also one of the very last of the US Cavalry Corps. Yes, the horse cavalrymen. A few years ago he told us his job was to work the radios - on horseback. It wasn't too difficult once you got used to it. In 1938, after 4 years service, he was discharged, but he re-enlisted once again in February 1941. When war came around he fought with the 83rd Infantry Division all through Normandy, Northern France, Rhineland, Ardennes-Alsace and Central Europe.


Catching up with him on Saturday, Al showed me a photo from his recent unit reunion, cutting a rug out on the dance floor. A moment later when I pulled out my lipstick to reapply, he told me not to over do it. "Girls always put too much on," he said. "Would you like some?" I joked, offering it to him. "No," said Al. "I only wear Cavalry yellow."

If you've never been to D-Day Ohio, put it on your to-do list. You'll be so glad.

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Maurice Brookes: US Army Air Corps

We were sitting down, stuffing our faces with some delicious Dairy Queen dilly bars, the perfect addition to a hot day at D-Day Ohio (more on that later), and I saw this darling fly boy watching us. So I popped over and introduced myself. He said "I was wondering when you were going to come over." So I laughed and asked him where he was from. He said,

"Have you ever heard of Shakespeare? Stratford on Avon? I'm from Stratford."

Turns out Mr. Brookes was born and raised to with his English parents in the hometown of the beloved writer of all things remarkable, William Shakespeare. In 1931, when he was 9 years old, his parents immigrated to Pittsburgh for a "better life." When the war came he joined the Air Corps and trained as a flight engineer in Texas, and then was stationed in New Mexico training new airmen. Towards the end of the war he was sent to Guam to get ready for the big move on Japan but thankfully it all ended before things came to that. He also mentioned he had a brother who was a flame-thrower in Saipan.

While we were talking, he opened his wallet and pulled out an old picture of an adorable gal with fluffy blonde hair. Very proudly he introduced me to his wife. "I met her on a furlough, and married her on the next one a year later. " he pulled another picture out and said "This is from the day we met!" I can think of few things more precious and loving than a 95 year old gentleman, 70+ years later still carrying with him for all the world to see and admire a picture of not only his life long sweetheart, but the day he met her!

The whole time we talked, I couldn't help imagining him as a darling rosy-cheeked 9 year old, English boy coming to our country, learning the American way, fighting for both our countries, and now, our Mr. Brookes, a lovely gentleman of 95 relating these stories. 

Stationed in Texas: Jake Kesatie

In 2014 at the Conneaut D-Day, we met the lovely Mr. Jake Kesiatie, an Army Staff Sergeant who served at the San Marcos Military Hospital in Texas during the war. A first generation American, Mr. K was born in 1918 just as the war was wrapping up. “When I was born they had to end the war... But then they had to start a war for me”.

Near the hospital where he was stationed in San Marcos during the war, was an Army Air Corps training base. One day two trainer planes, with five occupants each, had a head-on crash. Nobody survived, and he was detailed with others to clean up the mess. "There weren’t any bodies, just pieces here and there -arms, legs..." He had to fill ten bags with pieces of the remains of the trainees bodies. It was a terrible memory that made him shudder as he told it to us.

Several times throughout the war Mr K. tried to get shipped to overseas service, but they told him his help at the hospital was too valuable. And it must have been because he spent four years stationed in Texas. He was happy to hear we were from Texas because, besides the war going on, he had happy memories of Texas and the Bluebonnets, and of course the people. Mr. Kesatie may never have seen combat, but his role back home was vital. And for that we are very grateful to him.