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Postcards: D-Day anniversary brings back memories of an Emley uncle

By Linda Emley

One of my favorite childhood memories was watching movies on Saturday afternoons. Before VCRs, the only place to catch an old movie was on TV. I always checked the TV programing section of the The Kansas City Star Sunday paper to see what movies would be playing that week. There was a matinee on Saturday afternoons, and once a year I would get lucky and see my favorite movie, “Secret of the Incas,” with Charlton Heston. I loved that old black and white movie. I haven’t watched it for several years, but I can still see it in my mind. I also watched the old war movies, and one that I liked was “The Longest Day.” It was a 1962 movie about D-Day, the landing at Normandy on June 6, 1944. It’s hard to believe it’s been 70 years ago this week since D-Day became a part of history.
I thought it would be interesting to see what the local papers said about D-Day, so I pulled out the 1944 Richmond Missourian. I found little about it in the local paper, but I did find some interesting stories.
D-Day was on June 6, 1944, which was a Tuesday. The next Missourian was published on Thursday, June 8, and nothing was mentioned about the landing at Normandy. After thinking about it for a few minutes, I wondered how long the “Longest Day” really was. I did some checking and then realized how stupid that question really was. “D-Day, itself, only lasted one day starting at midnight June 6, 1944, and ending at 11:59 p.m.” Since there are only 24 hours in a day, that settled that question. But, I also found, “D-Day was part of the Battle of Normandy, which began on June 6 (with every following day listed as D+1 etc….) and lasted until Aug. 20, 1944, when the Faliase Gap closed and the German Wehrmacht began to retreat.” So now we know that in 1944, it took a few days before the world knew that “The Longest Day” was actually June 6.
I did find an interesting article in the June 8 newspaper. “Lt. Paul Emley Graduated Tuesday at West Point, N.Y. Lt. Paul C. Emley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herman Emley of Richmond was one of the graduates awarded a commission Tuesday at the United States Military academy at West Point, N.Y. Mr. and Mrs. Emley were at West Point to witness the graduation ceremony.
“Lt. Emley is returning to Richmond to spend a 30-day leave before reporting to Fort Knox, Ky. for a tour of duty assigned to the armored infantry.
“Before admission to the U.S. Military academy four years ago, Lt. Emley attended Richmond High School and Wentworth Military Academy at Lexington.
“Lt. Edward Murphy of Liberty, who is a brother of Mrs. James S. Rooney, was a classmate of Lt. Emley in the class of 1944. Mrs. Rooney was present for the graduation ceremony.”
Paul Emley was a great uncle to my Emley boys, and we were family for many years before he died in 1990. Uncle Paul was a “lifer” in the US Army and went on to serve Uncle Sam in World War II and the Korean War. He died Feb. 15, 1990, and was buried at Arlington Cemetery in Virginia. Since I worked for an airline, I took my Emley boys and we flew to Washington, D.C., to bury our Uncle Paul. My sons, Travis and Gabriel Emley, got to be a part of the patriotic funeral given to Col. Paul Casper Emley. I remember it like it was yesterday. Arlington Cemetery is huge and we covered most of it that February day in 1990.
There is a small chapel on the back side of the cemetery, where his funeral was held. His widow, Mary, and her daughter were there when we arrived. Also present were Mary’s son-in-law with his children and our cousin, Marc Foster. A couple of army buddies were there for their old friend and we got to visit with them and hear a few tales about our uncle.
After his funeral, we rode with one of his old buddies as we followed the horse-drawn caisson that slowly made its way to the front part of the cemetery. He was laid to rest near the front gate, as the soldiers fired a 21-gun salute. Uncle Paul’s son was not able to attend his funeral, so I made a video of the whole service for him. After his service was over, my sons and I spent the rest of the day walking around Arlington Cemetery and visiting other soldiers that were buried there. I’ve returned the cemetery several times since 1990 and always stopped by to visit Uncle Paul’s grave.
After reading this 1944 newspaper article about Uncle Paul, I realized that he graduated from West Point on Tuesday, June 6, 1944, which was “The Longest Day.” I now wonder if the graduates were advised about D-Day on the day it happened and if they understood what an important part of our history was taking place.
I checked a bit further and found another brief article about Uncle Paul in the June 19 Richmond Missourian. It was under the heading titled “News of Our Men – Women In Uniforms.”
“Lt. Paul C. Emley to Fort Knox. Lt. Paul C. Emley, son of Mr. and Mrs. Herman Emley, 122 Grandview St., will report at Fort Knox July 6, where he will be assigned to an armored infantry unit for three months training.”
On June 28, 1944, I finally found a story in the Richmond Missourian that mentioned the invasion.
“Lt. Kenneth Hill Wounded in Invasion of Normandy Coast. Lt. Kenneth F. Hill, son of Mr. and Mrs. Gilbert Hill of the Lawson community, was wounded on D-Day while participating in the Allied landing operation on the Normandy coast in France, according to word received by his parents. Lt. Hill suffered a shrapnel wound in his leg.
“He writes his parents that he is able to walk without crutches, but will probably be confined in the hospital for two months.
“He expressed his regret at not getting ‘far enough into France to see what it was like.’
“Lieut. Hill went into action with the 1st Division of the U.S. Army to which he was assigned while in Sicily. He entered the army in June 1941. He was sent overseas in June 1943 and participated in the Sicilian campaign. He had been in England since November 1943.
“Lieut. Hill is a grandson of Judge John W. Hill. He was a farmer at the time he entered the Army.
“His present address is, Lieut. Kenneth F. Hill, Detachment of Patients 4150, APO 165, C/O Postmaster, New York, N.Y.”
Everyday life in Ray County was affected by World War II, and I found some interesting stories in the newspapers from 1944.
A short note from the June 28 Richmond Missourian was: “Ed Hogan Buys Bus for Kansas City Run. Mr. and Mrs. Ed Hogan will leave at 5:30 o’clock this afternoon for Richmond, Ind., to return with a new bus for the Hogan Bus Line. The new bus will be used to transport workers between Richmond and the Pratt & Whitney engine plant at Kansas City.” There were many local citizens who helped fight this war without leaving Missouri.
The June 26 Missourian had another related topic: “Clark Favors World Planning to Prevent Future World Wars. ‘I believe that out of this war or when hostilities are ended President Roosevelt will help formulate and submit or plan, or call it what one may that will guide people of the war, insofar as is humanly possible, in the abolition of war among civilized nations as a means of settling international disputes,’ asserted the Senator, a Democratic candidate for re-election to the United States, in a recent address at Boonville, Mo.
“President Roosevelt at a recent press conference promised the American People that the contemplated world machinery would bar aggression without in any way, shape of form, depriving the United States of its national integrity. Such a plan will have the support of these men and women who now serve in our armed forces on all the far-flung battle fronts of this world preserving our liberties with their lives and with their sacrifices.”
The United Nations was founded in 1945 after WW II, when 51 countries were committed to “maintaining international peace and security, developing friendly relations among nations and promoting social progress.”

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