We’re now less than two weeks away from our annual Flames of Memory luminary event at the Memorial. I walked in the Education Tent earlier and it was full with the 4,413 luminaries ready to be placed throughout the Memorial in honor of each soldier who was killed on June 6, 1944. If you are able to, I would love for you to join us December 11-13, 2015 from 6PM to 10PM for this event free of charge!
|Harold Eugene "Gene" Sellers|
Private First Class
501st Parachute Infantry Regt, 101st Airborne Division
Today, I want to honor one of these 4,413 soldiers, Harold Eugene “Gene” Sellers, and tell his story.
Gene was born in Lawrence County, Arkansas in 1922 to David and Sarah Sellers. During his high school years, he was a star on the Jonesboro High School football and basketball teams. He received a football scholarship from the University of Arkansas but before he finished his first year of college, he decided to drop out and enlist in Army.
Gene joined the 101st Airborne Airborne when World War II began as a paratrooper. One of his letters reveals his excitement during his training:
“Dear Ruth, How’s everyone, fine I hope. I’m making it swell. We get our wings on Saturday. It’s one hell of a feeling when you jump from a plane. When you jump the prop blast catches you and sends you whirling. Then your chute opens giving you a big jerk. You come down real peaceful then to Earth. You don’t land so very hard. We have learned how to hit and take up a tumble to lessen the shock. Well I had better close, I jump tomorrow at 8:30. Bye, and answer soon. Lots of love, Gene.”
On D-Day, he was part of the massive force of paratroopers who parachuted behind enemy lines the night before the Normandy invasion. As a part of the Pathfinder unit, their mission was to set up radar and lights for drop zones to guide the incoming C-47s loaded with paratroopers.
As the unit landed, Gene drifted away from the landing zone towards an apple orchard and a group of Nazi soldiers. On June 6, 1944, Gene became the one of the first men to pay the ultimate sacrifice during the invasion. He is buried at the American Cemetery in Normandy and was posthumously awarded a Purple Heart and Bronze Star for his valor. Because of his valor and sacrifice, along with the 4,413 other servicemen who gave their lives this day, the Allies went on to free France and Europe from Nazi tyranny.
Until next time,
Alligood, Leon. “Old Paratroopers Relive Leaps of Faith: 12 D-Day Pathfinders Reunite in Nashville for What May be Last Time.” The Tennessean, May 20, 2006.
American Battle Monuments Commission. “Letters.” Accessed November 30, 2015. https://www.abmc.gov/multimedia/videos/letters.
American Battle Monuments Commission. “Their Shoulders.” Accessed November 30, 2015. https://www.abmc.gov/multimedia/videos/their-shoulders.