Three N.C. D-Day Veterans Return to Normandy After 75 Years
By Mike Bazinet for the TTimes
Mark Hager, a US Army veteran, historian, teacher, and award-winning filmmaker, will present the documentary The Last Gathering: 75th Anniversary of D-Day on April 17 at 7 p.m. at the Co-Ed Theater, 79 West Main St. Brevard. Following the screening, Hager will talk about the film and his book, The Last of the 357th Infantry: Harold Frank’s WWII Story of Faith and Courage.
The film details the stories of three courageous North Carolina Normandy Campaign veterans and their return to Normandy, France, for the 2019 gathering to commemorate the largest amphibious invasion in history while the book covers the inspiring story of one of those veterans. The April 17 event is the western North Carolina premiere of the 50-minute documentary.
Hager, who is also president of the Forks of the Yadkin and Davie County History Museum in Mocksville, N.C., has spoken widely about his book on Harold Frank. He chronicled Frank’s story from his boyhood years growing up during the Great Depression on a North Carolina farm, through his training and landing with his battalion on Utah Beach as a Browning Automatic rifleman through his fighting in the hedgerow country of the Contentin Peninsula. There, in a nine-hour firefight, Frank was wounded and captured by German forces.
In the film, the audience is also introduced to Kenneth “Rock” Merritt, who won the Silver Star as an 82nd Airborne paratrooper, and James Deal, who fought with the 737th Tank Battalion, 35th Infantry Division, landing on Omaha Beach.
David Morrow, Veterans History Museum of the Carolinas Board president said, “We seek to honor the service and preserve the stories of all Carolina veterans, so it is a privilege for us to welcome author and filmmaker Mark Hager to Brevard to share the tremendous contribution he has made in presenting the stories of three American heroes from a different part of our great state.”
Hager’s book will be available for purchase prior to the program at Highland Books, 36 West Main Street, Brevard, NC. His documentary DVD, The Last Gathering, will be for sale during the April 17 event for $15. Only cash or checks accepted for the DVD.
Tickets are $5.00 at the door (cash only) or in advance: www.theveteransmuseum.com. Click “News” button at the top of the page and go to “Three N.C. D-Day Veterans . . . ”
If you purchase your ticket on-line you will receive an email receipt from PayPal. Please print and bring it with you to the event as your ticket.
The non-profit Veterans Museum of the Carolinas welcomes visitors Tuesday through Saturday, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Admission is free. Exhibits cover World War I, World War II, the Korean and Vietnam conflicts, and the war on terrorism. Tours can be customized for groups by calling 828-884-2141. For more information, call 828-884-2141 or visit www.theveteransmuseum.com.