E. Duncan Cameron of the 1st Infantry Division hit Omaha Beach on D-Day almost 12 hours after the first troops came ashore – and still faced hot German fire. Three months later near Stolberg, Germany, mortar shrapnel almost cost him an arm.
Duncan, who grew up in Allentown and served in Company C of the 26th Infantry Regiment, died last week, three days after turning 91. It hit me hard when I happened to see his obituary at work Friday night while proofing a page for the next day’s issue of The Morning Call.
Yet another of my old friends is gone.
I interviewed Duncan for a D-Day anniversary story that ran in the newspaper on June 6, 2010. Here’s the link: http://www.mcall.com/news/mc-e-duncan-cameron,0,757673.story As a separate item with the text, we reprinted a poem he wrote in his pocket diary a few days after the invasion, while in a foxhole amid Normandy’s hedgerows. It recounted his experience on June 6, 1944.
Duncan, who had been a college student before the Army drafted him in 1942, had a literary bent and continued to be a note and letter writer, as I found out. Last year his family invited me to his 90th birthday party – I wrote about it in a blog at the time — and a few days later I got a card from him: “Thank you so much for your visit on my birthday. It certainly brightened up an otherwise rainy day. I had great company and fun gifts and a yummy cake. Who could ask for more?”
But the letter from him that I will always treasure came a couple of weeks after his story ran. It was affirmation of the value of getting veterans’ stories out to the public.
“Last week was a busy one for me. I was answering questions regarding your article of my account covering the D-Day landing. I had many questions from family, friends, as well as a few strangers. They were all complimentary, and I had you to thank for that. You put it all together and kept it from falling apart.”