Veterans Day 2016 Tribute Lamp by Mike Gallagher
This piece is dedicated to my Uncle Jack and others from the 82nd Airborne’s 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment, also known to the Nazi’s as the Red Devils, who lost their lives as they entered France on D-Day.
At 2:30 a.m. June 6, 1944, Uncle Jack’s unit was dropped over the Cotentin Peninsula with their objective being to destroy the bridges over the Douve River and establish a secure bridgehead up to Le-Hameau-Renouf. Unfortunately, the drop zone was missed. Many of the 508th landed in the water and drowned.
Later that afternoon, Jack, along with 6 American soldiers and 2 German prisoners, were caught in a firefight with German infantry and their tank. Many were wounded, Jack being one of them. Shortly after, he and others from his unit were captured and taken by German soldiers to a large farm. A few days later, 350 – 400 wounded allied prisoners were loaded on trucks led by a German weapons carrier and followed by a weapons scout truck. Just 10 miles from St. Lo, the trucks were intercepted by a U.S. P47 and repeatedly strafed. 40 U.S. POWs were killed and many wounded, my uncle being among the KIA.
In 2006, John J. Judefind, also known as “Judy” to his friends, was honored at his alma mater St. James High School, with his name being added to their Wall of Honor. In a 2006 article, six decades after dying a hero, ‘Judy’ Judefind is not forgotten. Published in the Delaware County Daily Times, his classmates remembered Uncle Jack.
- “He was the finest person I ever met.”
- “If you had to pick one person in your life to look up to, it would be him.”
- “He was my idol, a fellow who always had time for the younger guys.”
- “He was just a wonderful guy.”
Thank you, Uncle Jack, for the ultimate sacrifice you made for our country.
– Mike Gallagher
Sgt. John J. Judefind is buried in the Normandy American Cemetery in St. Laurence-sur-Mer.