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Mark’s Musings – June 28, 2017

| June 27, 2017
Mark Fortune

Mark Fortune

Our community stood tall last week. When it was first announced that the remains of Private Eugene “Gene” J. Appleby, a member of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division, were returning home to Coshocton after he was identified through DNA following decades of missing in action, the pride and respect for our military was on display well beyond our county lines.

Pvt. Appleby was killed in action during the early phase of the ill-fated Operation Market Garden on Sept. 17, 1944. This was according to fellow paratroopers that saw him get shot. U. S. Army paratroopers dropped into the fields of Holland on a bright sunny Sunday afternoon as part of the largest airborne operation in the war to date. Those that follow history, and especially World War II history, know that the plan was to sweep around the strong German defenses in France and hopefully end the war by Christmas. The daring plan, conceived by British General Montgomery, was doomed from the start.

The capture of five bridges was the key to the operation and British, Polish, Canadian and U. S. paratroopers formed the vanguard of forces that were involved. Follow on ground forces were to link up with the paratroopers. Unfortunately, intelligence missed the fact that a significant number of German soldiers, including some elite units, were resting in and around the area. That, combined with bad weather as the operation continued, drop zones spread out over miles, poor communications and the British Second Army not being able to capture a key bridge across the Rhine, led to the collapse of the operation on Sept. 25, 1944. But perhaps the single biggest reason was the Allies over confidence – thinking that the Germans were already beaten.

According to several sources, the plan was conceived and launched in days and when considering the amount of men and material necessary for success that no doubt played a part in the failure. Especially when one considers the planning that went into the invasion of Normandy.

The 1974 book, “A Bridge Too Far”, by Cornelius Ryan is a good read on the subject.

But regardless of the success or failure of the mission, those that identified Pvt. Appleby and ensured that his remains were returned home to Coshocton where he lived as a young boy, was a testament to all those that work in that field.

Seeing the vehicle escort bring Pvt. Appleby to Coshocton, the people that took their time to line Main Street and display an American flag, and those that turned out for the funeral service and graveside services brought honor to a fallen soldier, a family and our community.

The Indian Mud Run was a success and compliments go out to all those that volunteered, helped organize, participated and made this event happen. It was another opportunity for our community to shine.

The same goes for those that are part of the fireworks display in Coshocton or Fresno. Thanks go to the people in our community giving up their time for others. Thank you.

Category: Mark's Musings, Opinion

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