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  • Writer's pictureSTEVE COOKE AATA

Remembering and celebrating WW2 Heroes with Gary Bridson-Daley

Updated: 5 days ago

By Steve Cooke


Local writer and veterans’ champion Gary Bridson-Daley has just returned from 3 weeks away in Spain and France, and before returning managed to interview his first World War Two U.S Veteran at his home in Normandy, France. Native American Indian Veteran, Charles Shay.


When I caught up with him, he explained:


“He was a survivor of that hellish 1st wave to hit Omaha beach on the 6th of June 1944 as chillingly depicted in the opening scenes of the film Saving Private Ryan! As a Combat Medic he saved many lives that day and won the Silver Star, one of the highest awards for courage under fire in the U.S Army. After that he was Involved in many hard battles all through Western Europe until the end of WW2.He continued to serve in the U.S Army and went on to be a Combat Medic in the Korean War in the 1950's, and after that he was seconded to the United States Air Force to be a part of the Medical and Observation teams in the Pacific Atoll Nuclear Bomb tests in the 1950's and 1960's!

He completed 22 years Military service from 1943 to 1965 and followed this with 25 years’ service for the United Nations Atomic Agency and Refugee Committee in Vienna.

A truly incredible human being and humble man who has been through hell and back and survived it to a large degree with the help of his Native American Spirituality, which helped him through the darkest of times.”


“I was truly moved and honoured to spend time with this great man and to also conduct my very first WW2 Veteran Interview in France, and my first with a serviceman from a Native American Indian background, he is also a Tribal Elder in his Penosbscot Indian tribe in the U.S.”


Gary recommends that we have a look at the difficult but very realistic opening scenes on Omaha Beach from Saving Private Ryan.



“Not easy viewing, but it gives you a real idea of what a 19-year-old Charles Shay went through and experienced on D-Day! He suffered this whilst saving friends and fellow combatants from his and other units that were being massacred under murderous enemy fire in that first wave that morning! This is what they went through to give us the freedom that to a large extent we still enjoy to this day as a result of their sacrifices!”


From the tens of thousands who applied to be at the big 80th Anniversary Events at Bayeux on the 5th of June and at the British Normandy Memorial in Normandy, France on the 6th of June Gary has been selected for both!


“Only 500 of us with Veterans, Dignitaries and Royalty at the big one on the 6th!!”


Gary has just done a re-working of his first book and tells me he has done a fair bit of new content and reformatting on it especially for this year of big 80th Anniversaries of D-Day, Arnhem and more, and as a result a new Special Edition of that book with extra veterans and additional material alongside the original veterans has just been released by the History Press and is now available worldwide.


He will be doing a Very Special Book Signing event being hosted by the Imperial War Museum North on Saturday 18th May.





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