World War II Veteran Receives a D-Day Hero's Welcome in Normandy

Top Quote Jack Womer, a member of the infamous group of World War II soldier named "The Filthy Thirteen" returned to Normandy for D-Day commemorations. Upon his arrival, he received the welcome fit for a hero. End Quote
  • (1888PressRelease) June 19, 2012 - The last time Jack Womer was in Normandy, he was jumping out of a plane on D-Day as a member of the most notorious squad of paratroopers in the 101st Airborne Division, the "Filthy Thirteen." Almost 70 years later, Jack, after the release of his book Fighting with the Filthy Thirteen: The World War II Story of Jack Womer, Ranger and Paratrooper, accepted numerous invitations to return to Normandy for D-Day commemorations.

    The Filthy Thirteen, first made famous in a 1944 Stars & Stripes article and then a 2004 book of that title, were a brawling bunch of insubordinate miscreants who had the sole saving grace of going on to wreak more havoc on the German Army than they had on their own officers and the otherwise tranquil English countryside. Fighting through Normandy and Holland and at Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge, they became the inspiration for the movie "The Dirty Dozen," and Jack Womer was considered the squad's best pure soldier.

    To say that Jack received a warm welcome in France this month would be an understatement. The people of Normandy welcomed him warmly, showering him with awards, medals, and gifts. Jack also attended the various D-Day ceremonies where he met local dignitaries, and where the people vied with each other to treat him to dinner, show him around, or even just to sit next to him. One man from England had his authentic WWII jeep shipped to Normandy just so he could drive Jack around in it. Jack was also taken to battle sites where he, and the rest of the Filthy Thirteen, had fought the Nazis.

    One particularly memorable moment of the trip occurred when Jack arrived in Carentan. In one chapter of Fighting with the Filthy Thirteen entitled "A Red Rose for A Soldier," Jack tells the story of a firefight in Carentan on June 17, 1944. In the midst of the battle, an old French woman had come up to Jack with a red rose and told him to "send it to the woman he loves" (meaning his fiancée Theresea). Later in the chapter, Jack explains how that rose ended up saving a man's life, and then refers to it again when he describes how Theresa, then his wife, passed away. It seems that many people must have read the book before Jack's trip because when he arrived in Carentan, a group of French women and children were waiting for him in the town square, dressed in 1940s' attire, and upon his arrival they presented him with red roses.

    By way of a perfect ending to a genuinely heartwarming trip, the Air France flight crew on Jack's return to the States somehow learned about him and his book, and bumped Jack and his daughter up to first class seating. Throughout his reunion visit to Normandy and his encounters with the still-grateful people of France, this American World War II veteran received the VIP treatment he deserved.

    Fighting with the Filthy Thirteen:
    The World War II Story of Jack Womer - Ranger and Paratrooper
    Jack Womer and Stephen C. DeVito
    6x9, 304 pages, illustrated, 9781612001005, $32.95, hardback
    Casemate Publishers

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