We were delighted to receive an email from Frank and Sandra Cook, guests who traveled with us to France on one of our 75th Anniversary of D-Day tours. Frank’s father, Paul Cook, who was a sergeant in the Army, landed on Utah Beach after D-Day. He went on to serve under Gen. George Patton and was part of the liberation of Paris and the Battle of Bulge. Mercifully, Paul returned home.
However, in preparation for his trip, Frank did some research to find out if anyone from his hometown of Attleboro, MA, was among the 9,385 U.S. soldiers buried in the Normandy American Cemetery. If so, he wanted to pay his respects while he would be there. There was–Normand G. Tardif.
Today, we share Frank and Sandra’s memories of their 75th Anniversary of D-Day Tour, an inspiration for an article on their hometown hero, Normand G. Tardif.
Guest Tour Memory: 75th Anniversary of D-Day Tour
Attached, as I mentioned to Claire during our phone conversation today, is an article the local newspaper printed on Memorial Day last year that I thought you might be interested in reading. My wife and I were on the “75th Anniversary D-Day to the Rhine” tour led by Casey Brower (historian) and Terry Sercovich (tour manager).
While at the Normandy-American Cemetery on June 6 we visited the grave of the only resident of our city who is buried in that cemetery: Private Normand Tardif, 115th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. Terry had suggested that I contact the newspaper about our visit. They were interested but decided to hold the story until Memorial Day.
When interviewed I had included details about SAHT but, unfortunately, no mention was included in the article. However, I want to note that had it not been for SAHT chances are we never would have been able to get to Normandy on our own and for that we are very grateful.
There were a couple of mistakes in the article, most noticeably stating that the fallen soldier was in the 24th Division when his regiment was part of the 29th Division.
This was a wonderful tour and we can’t say enough about the experience and the terrific job that Casey and Terry did to make it so interesting and enjoyable! A week doesn’t pass without us talking about the tour and how grateful we were to be part of the 75th Anniversary. Plus, we met some great people with whom we are all keeping in touch and have actually made plans to again tour together with SAHT.
Please keep up the good work of making history come alive!
Frank and Sandra Cook
Former Attleboro official honors city soldier buried at Normandy
By George W. Rhodes, The Sun Chronicle
Former Attleboro city council president Frank Cook’s life is steeped in history.
He studies it, teaches it and family members have participated in two of the most monumental battles in America’s history.
His great-grandfather Private John E. Cook was a cavalry soldier in the Union Army at Gettysburg in July of 1863, the battle that most historians consider the turning point of the Civil War.
He served under Gen. John Buford whose unit was the first to encounter the Confederate Army under Gen. Robert E. Lee on July 1 as he pushed into Pennsylvania.
Buford engaged with some of Lee’s forces and won the high ground, which gave the Union Army a big advantage in the ensuing fight.
The three-day battle stopped the Confederacy’s invasion of the north and put the Union on course to create “a new birth of freedom,” a phrase Lincoln used in his Gettysburg Address in November of that year during the dedication of a cemetery on the site.
The private later became an orderly for Gen. Ulysses S. Grant and was with him when Lee surrendered at Appomattox in April of 1865.
Meanwhile, Frank Cook’s late dad Paul Cook, who retired as a deputy fire chief from the Boston Fire Department, was one of the thousands of Allied soldiers who invaded Normandy in June of 1944.
He wasn’t in the first wave. He landed sometime later at bullet-blasted Utah Beach.
Cook was a sergeant in the Army and was part of a code-breaking unit known as the 3110th Signal Service Battalion.
The invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944 began the liberation of Europe, a new birth of freedom for the continent which had been under the Nazi yoke since 1940.
It was a pivotal battle in the war.
Thousands of allied soldiers were lost, but Cook survived.
He later served under Gen. George Patton and was part of the liberation of Paris and the Battle of Bulge, Hitler’s last-gasp offensive which failed and signaled that it was just a matter of time before all of Europe would finally be free, at least the parts not occupied by the Soviet Union which was sweeping over Germany from the east.
The former city councilor and his wife Sandra attended ceremonies for the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Gettysburg in 2013.
That’s when he decided that he’d like to be in Normandy for the 75th anniversary of that world-altering fight in 2019.
And he and Sandra made the trip.
But before he left, Cook did some research.
He wanted to know if an Attleboro resident was among the 9,385 U.S. soldiers buried in the sprawling 172.5 acre Normandy American Cemetery.
And with the help of the Rev. Ron Gagne at LaSalette Shrine and city graves officer and Vietnam veteran Phil Audette, he discovered there was.
His name is Normand G. Tardif.
He was born and raised in Attleboro and was drafted into the U.S. Army. At the time, he was employed at LaSalette Shrine.
Tardif reported for duty in the Army on Aug. 22, 1943.
In less than a year he would be dead, one of the thousands of Allied soldiers who were killed in action as a massive wave of soldiers, tanks and planes pushed inland from the sandy and blood stained beaches at Normandy.
He went ashore at Omaha Beach in the second wave, Cook said.
The first wave was shredded by a fusillade of Nazi machine gun fire which was vividly portrayed in the 1998 movie “Saving Private Ryan.”
The second wave faced the same.
But Tardif, 25, and a private in the 115th Infantry Regiment of the 24th Division, survived. However, he only had 57 days to live.