I was in an airport waiting to catch a flight to the first Randall Trucking Fall Symposium in Phoenix when I noticed a man wearing an old World War II Army uniform. I was pressed for time but intrigued, so I stopped and talked to him. His name was Marion Gray, and his story was an untold one.
I’d like to give his story space in my column this holiday season and challenge you to look around your life and see if there are untold stories in your break room, driving your trucks, filing your paperwork or answering your phones. If so, take a minute to ask someone to tell you his or her story. Here’s a condensed version of Marion Gray’s.
What would life be like today, had we failed you at Normandy 60 years ago, June the 6th, 1944?
For it was on this day, 60 years ago, that I stood alone at the railings of a transport ship that was pushing through the water. It was a little after midnight when a soldier came and stood beside me. I did not know him, and he did not know me. We could both hear aircraft overhead flying to distant targets unknown to us. Soon they would be flying into hellish gunfire, and little did we know that soon we would be headed in the same direction.
Looking down from the railing, the phosphorous in the water sparkled like fireflies back home calling to their mates, and all I could think about was my wife.
It was like we were all in a theater waiting for the show to begin. When the show started, you could hear the shells being loaded into rifles and the clicking of heels upon the steel deck. We huddled together to keep warm from the chill of the north breeze. There was no intermission.
The silence was broken as our names were called, like a conductor on a train. We climbed down rope ladders to the landing craft that was moving with the waves. We were not alone, and as far as we could see in the darkness, other landing craft were circling their mother ship like a duckling circling its mother. Then the conductor yells “All aboard!” We were a sea of men heading into destiny. We rode the waves, and the tips of the waves would splash our faces as shells burst all around. There was no turning back.
When the ramp went down, it was chaos in the bowels of hell. There were those who jumped into the water never to touch dry ground and those that did not live to see the sunrise the next morning. Lying there upon the sand was the man that had stood beside me at the rail. He had a smile upon his face as though to say, “I have helped to set them free.” Still unknown to me – but known to God.
Thank you, Marion Gray, for your service – and to all who continue to serve our country today, as they fight the global War on Terrorism.