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WWII veteran honored at family reunion in Stratford

Bernard Rogers (center) embraces two of the younger members of his family during a reunion in Stratford Aug. 9. (Courtesy Photo) (click for larger version)
August 19, 2014
WWII veteran honored at family reunion in Stratford

STRATFORD — On Saturday, Aug. 9, a Rogers Family Reunion was held at the Stratford Hollow Memorial Common, in Stratford. Joy Potter of Stark organized the event in honor of her uncle Bernard Rogers, age 90, of Lebanon. About 100 family members showed up to celebrate.

Bernard is the last of 11 children born to Gilbert and Vivian Rogers of Stark. He was indeed surprised to have so many family members arrive to honor him. Sandy Dean of Jefferson presented him with a large reunion cake. He was pleased to no end, and stated he truly felt like a celebrity.

Bernard is a World War II veteran, serving throughout Europe during the war. He was among the first wave of infantry to hit Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944. As he says, "It was a day that will live in infamy for him." Before disembarking from his LST landing craft, Bernard was held back by WWII photographer, Robert Capa, so a picture could be taken of other G.I.'s getting into the water. This famous photo was published in Newsweek Magazine during the war. Capa was later killed during the Vietnam War, while working as a correspondent.

The 60-plus-pound pack hampered Bernard's mobility in the six-foot-deep water, as he stepped off the landing craft. As a scout, he carried a communication line onto the beach. No more had he got on land, than he got struck down by shrapnel from what he believes was a mortar shell explosion. Bernard laid on the beach wounded all day before the Medics got to him. The shrapnel struck him in the leg and back, for which he still bears the battle scars. The pieces were never removed. For this, he received both a Purple Heart and Silver Star medals. His mind still bears a vivid picture of the dead and wounded laying all around him. Bernard says he never got to fire a shot from his MI rifle during the entire war.

After the war, he worked several local jobs, before settling into his life long profession as an electrician. His wife Viola is deceased. They have six children, Bernard Jr., Larry, Darcy, Jimmy, Lorie and Sharon. Of these Bernard Jr., Larry, Darcy, and Jimmy showed up at the reunion with their families. The weather cooperated with plenty of sunshine and a barbecue was enjoyed by all. The family enjoyed it so much, that they want to turn-it into an annual event.

Bernard most recently returned from a cruise to Bermuda with a friend. Joy Potter wishes to thank all those who donated.

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