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  • Writer's pictureDon Milne

Stories of the Arlington D-Day Fallen

In 2021 volunteers with Stories Behind the Stars wrote the stories of each of the 2,502 Americans who died on D-Day. Thirty-nine of them are buried at Arlington National Cemetery. Visitors to any of their graves can now read their stories for free via smartphone.

Here are a few of their stories.

TEC 5 Swanson W Altice

TEC 5 Swanson W Altice (1916-1944) was born in Franklin County, Virginia. He enlisted in the Army before the United States entered World War II. Altice served in the 29th Division, which trained in England for an amphibious invasion. On June 6, 1944, he participated in the D-Day invasion on Omaha Beach.

Altice was a member of the 111th Field Artillery, equipped with 155mm howitzers. They attempted to deploy using DUKW boats, but most sank. Altice was wounded, possibly by German artillery, and evacuated to a hospital where he later died from his injuries.

Read Swanson's story here (story written by Georgene Chastain, Virginia). His Arlington grave location is Section 12, Grave 1360.

CPT Sherman V Burroughs

Captain Sherman Victor Burroughs of Roanoke County, Virginia, served in the 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. Burroughs landed on Omaha Beach and tragically lost his life at the age of 35 due to enemy fire.

Born on Valentine's Day in 1909, Burroughs had previously served in the Virginia National Guard before being called into active duty in 1941. Burroughs left behind his mother, wife Ruth Parsons Burroughs, and their three sons.

Read Sherman's story here (story written by Kimberly Hill, New York). His Arlington grave location is Section 12, Grave 4055.

TEC 5 Merrill E Chapman

Merrill Edward Chapman, from Lock Haven, Pennsylvania, enlisted in the Army as a tank crewman and was assigned to Company B of the 741st Tank Battalion. Three of Merrill's brothers also fought in WWII. (His brother Allen died the next year at the Battle of Iwo Jima.) On D-Day, his battalion suffered heavy losses when most of the M4 Sherman DD tanks sank during their landing on Omaha Beach. TEC 5 Grade Merrill Chapman was among the casualties.

Read Merrill's story here (story written by Gary Smith, Utah). His Arlington grave location is Section 12, Grave 2468.

SGT Donald E Georger

SGT Donald Edward Georger, from Rochester, New York, enlisted in the Army and was assigned to the 299th Engineer Combat Battalion (ECB). It prepared for a very specific mission -- clearing obstacles along the Normandy coast. On D-Day, as they approached Omaha Beach, the landing craft were dragged off course, and the German defenses proved deadlier than expected. Gap Support Team F, which included Don, faced heavy fire and suffered casualties. Don did not survive the landing.

Read Donald's story here (story written by John Antkowiak, North Carolina). His Arlington grave location is Section 12, Grave 4834.

PFC Charles G McSkimming

PFC Charles G McSkimming, from Missouri, grew up in a large family with ten children. He married in 1939 and enlisted in the Army in 1943.

Assigned to Company A, 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division, Charles was part of the very first assault on Omaha Beach. Charles was wounded on the beach and received first aid but ultimately drowned in the rising tide before further medical assistance could reach him.

Read Charles's story here (story written by Randy Hervey, Colorado). His Arlington grave location is Section 14, Grave 289.

Brigadier General Donald F Pratt

Brigadier General Don Forrester Prattof Missouri was to command the 101st Airborne Division reserve forces during the D-Day attack. Tragedy struck as General Pratt's glider crashed into tall trees. The impact caused General Pratt's death.

Read Don's story here (story written by Mac Kolar, North Carolina). His Arlington grave location is Section 11, Site 707-SH.

Over the past year and a half, more volunteers have been working to make sure that all of the 8,700 WWII fallen buried at Arlington National Cemetery each have a story. Going forward, the four million annual visitors to our premier national cemetery will be able to read a story about any of these fallen heroes when they visit their grave.

Our goal is to eventually have a story about everyone of the 421,000 US WWII fallen. To complete this mission we are going to need many more volunteers. Find out more here.

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