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“We left the harbor about sundown… and I got to thinking, ‘This is the real thing. Tomorrow morning is the real thing, what we’ve been practicing for. I wonder if I’ll ever see that sun again.’” (Audio interview, 20:09)

   Dean Milton Weissert
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War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Army
Unit: 33rd Infantry Division; 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One)
Service Location: Fort Crook, Omaha; Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; Fort Sill, Oklahoma; Camp Forrest, Tennessee; Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri; Camp Carson, Colorado; Camp Shanks, New York; Scotland; England; France; Czechoslovakia; Germany; European Theater
Rank: Staff Sergeant
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Drafted October 16th, 1941, Army Staff Sergeant Dean Weissert became part of a communications platoon: specifically, as wire chief, his role was to lay telephone wire. On D-Day, this meant “jumping from tree to tree” while dodging German snipers; by the end of the day, he says, “I don’t think we got more than a mile from the beach.” In his interview, he discusses the perils of laying wire at night, being so worn out that he would sleep through the shelling adjacent to his foxhole, and his interactions with German civilians. Coming from a German-American family, he felt conflicted: while killing the enemy would help to end the war, he had a particular understanding of the German soldiers’ inherent humanity.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (11 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (90 min.)
»Transcript
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 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (11 items)
Training for the invasion; increasing mileage of hikes; moving into a training camp (02:06) Restrictions during training period; what they wore and carried during the invasion (02:42) Departing for Normandy; English Channel was full of ships; talking to soldiers who had made previous landings (04:29)
Blunder made by his tank commander; landing; climbing a hill; observing the casualties (06:13) Laying wire while dodging bullets from snipers; pulling guard duty; effects of adrenaline; exhaustion; sleeping next to a dead German soldier in a foxhole (04:34) Laying wire at night and in the rain; living in a foxhole; lessons taught by veteran soldiers. (07:40)
Extreme close call when laying wire (03:03) Observing German casualties (01:16) Taking six showers in 11 months of combat (01:58)
Coming from a German family and trying to make sense of German deaths (02:11) Observing a German soldier kill German civilians (04:24) 
  
 

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  October 26, 2011
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