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.”
Thanks so much, David! I’ll forward this to my cousin Scott in Florida (Duncan’s son). He and his wife, Sue, will be up for the service. Hope you can get away on the 27th.
Bruce, thank you. Just added a photo to the post. Also, I’ve made arrangements at work so I can make the service.