Charles Norman Shay, Penobscot elder and WWII veteran of D-Day, was honored in France this June at Omaha Beach. Trickster Art Gallery is proud to have been a part of this historic day helping to honor Charles and the other Native Americans who landed in Normandy 73 years ago.

The following is taken from an article published by the US Army on June 6th, 2017. You can find the original article here.

“One of the few surviving American Indian WWII combat veterans, retired Master Sgt. Charles Norman Shay returned to the country he helped liberate to attend a memorial dedication in his honor, on June 5, 2017.

“As one of the few surviving American Indian combat veterans who participated in the liberation of France, I speak here not only for myself but also on behalf of my comrades from Turtle Island,” Shay said, citing the Native American name for North America.

Shay, a Penobscot Indian from Maine, was only 19 years old when he struggled ashore Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, as a platoon medic serving in Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment. The 16th Infantry Regiment was one of three combat regiments in the 1st Infantry Division that spearheaded the assault on D-Day.

“On the evening of June 5, 1944, I was aboard the Henrico heading across the Channel, when I had a surprise visit from a Penobscot Indian warrior named Melvin Neptune,” Shay recalled. “He didn’t trouble me with his combat experience, nor did he offer me advice. Instead, we talked about home because he knew I had never been in combat… all hell was about to break loose on me.”

“Only two of us appear to have survived the war without being wounded,” Shay continued. “We were lucky. Call it what you want, fate, destiny, angels, spirits or God. All I know is that my mother prayed for me.”

He said his mother prayed fervently for his other three brothers serving in World War II as well — two in the U.S. Navy and one in the Army Air Corps as a B-17 gunner.

“There were mothers across Turtle Island praying for their brave sons,” Shay said. “My heart breaks for those women who were never able to welcome their sons home again.”

The memorial unveiled in the June 5 ceremony is aptly named the “Turtle Monument” after the ancestral home of Shay and his fellow Native Americans. It is the first time that this site has been recognized as part of a D-Day commemoration.

“Every Soldier who landed on this beach was a hero,” Shay declared, who also went on to serve in the Korean War. “There is now a plaque commemorating Indian Soldiers who left Turtle Island to help liberate our ancient French allies. We will not forget their sacrifices.”

You can find more articles about the Memorial from “Pointer View”, the Department of Defense, and French news sources here: “New Memorial Honors Native American Sacrifice on D-Day, here: “New Memorial in France Honors Native American D-Day Sacrifice”, here: “73rd D-Day: A Tortoise in Memory of the Native Americans of Omaha“, and here: “Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer: A Memorial for AmerIndian Soldiers of Omaha”.