It’s with a heavy heart today that I post this blog. While it is a sobering reality that we are losing our WWII veterans, it hits even closer to home when it is someone that you know very well. Today, we found out that Carter Fisher, a D-Day veteran, passed away yesterday. Not only was Carter one of the valiant men who participated in the invasion, but he kept the legacy of the 4,413 men who died on June 6th alive through his commitment to volunteering and sharing their stories, as well as his own, at the National D-Day Memorial as a volunteer. Here’s a little bit of his story:
Carter, at age 19, was on board the USS Arkansas as it took position some 4,000 yards off Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944. His job for the invasion was to load shells for the 12-inch guns onboard the USS Arkansas. He was stationed inside the turret on Battery One. Shortly after 5:30 a.m., the Arkansas started bombarding German positions on the coast in preparations for the Allied beach assault.
|USS Arkansas in 1945|
Because he was in the turret, Carter did not see much, but he did hear the blasts of the guns and firing of anti-aircraft artillery. He recalled two German fighter planes attacking the ship that evening, but both were shot of the sky. All in all, the USS Arkansas ended June 6, 1944 with no casualties. If you would like to hear more of Carter’s experience on D-Day, here is a link to an interview he did a few years ago as a part of our Lunchbox Lecture series: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZmlIwHqfWKQ.
The USS Arkansas went on to participate in the bombardment of Cherbourg and fire in support of the invasion of Southern France. The USS Arkansas also provided support for the invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Carter left the Navy in 1946 and never talked about the war, even though he had taken part in three major Allied invasions in southern France and the Pacific.
|The Necrology Wall at the National D-Day|
Memorial in Bedford, VA
After the National D-Day Memorial opened in 2001, Carter began volunteering as a tour guide and through that he started sharing his memories from the war. He once said about his service on D-Day that “I don’t brag about it, but I’m proud to tell people I served there.” When he gave his tour of the Memorial, he always made sure that they took special note of the 4,413 names of the Allied soldiers, sailors, and airmen killed on June 6, 1944 on our necrology wall because it’s important to remember every single one of those men who didn’t come back. Carter wasn’t just a beloved tour guide at the Memorial, but he was a friend to many staff members and volunteers who remember him for his sense of humor. Even though he was not at the Memorial as much in the past few years due to his declining health, it was always great to see him on June 6th at our anniversary ceremonies. He will be missed tremendously!
We’ve been fortunate to have our D-Day and WWII veterans with us for the past 72 years; however, our time with them is quickly coming to an end. It is important now more than ever to preserve the legacy of these veterans to share with future generations. Today as I was preparing our Education Tent for the first field trip of the season while taking in the news of Carter’s death, I realized that it is our duty to keep his memory, as well as the thousands of other D-Day veterans’ memories, alive. While I do this through educational initiatives at the National D-Day Memorial, you can share the legacy of Carter and all WWII veterans through listening to the stories of those who are still with us, thanking them for their service, and sharing those stories for others to hear. It is only through all of us working together that their legacy is preserved for the next generation!
Until Next Time,