George Fred Fortune


   

 D-DAY June 6, 1944

On June 6, 2000 George wrote the following letter to my family
about the invasion.

 "I asked my dad what he did in the war (1916-1918) like so many kids did. He had arranged to sell his taxi business, and had his war gear already to go overseas!!! Then the Armistice came and took care of this worry. I was proud of the fact that he tried even at the age of 34 or 35.

Today people think of Christmas as Santa Claus, Easter as chocolate bunnies, Memorial Day as a long weekend of vacation, and June 6th as a day like any other depending on what day it falls on. For your info on D-Day, I watched planes fall from the sky like exploding fireworks, ships around me turned turtle, blown up by torpedoes, and wave after wave of Allied planes flying over and bombing the beaches and fortifications.

D-Day as you have seen in the movies was a veritable hell, which most of those who were there do not have very much to say about it. As executive officer, I pulled the firing switches on 1448 5" rockets which took about a minute, and they roared over the heads of the troops in the small landing craft to land of the beach to keep the German troops disoriented!! The flames caught the skipper in his firing cabinet up on the top deck, and badly singed his anti-gas outfit!! We wore this gear for a week without taking it off including life jackets!!! We found out later that we hit our target and on time.

We were there all week with the rocket racks reloaded and ready. The German planes would come over at dusk and try to drop bombs on us but the atni-aircraft guns were too much for them. They even fired at the Allied planes because they were so nervous!!

After this session all 24 of our rocket ship flotilla went to Bizerte in Algiers, and then on to Naples,Italy, and to the Southern France landing. Here we lost our only man killed in battle, thanks be to God!!!

From here I went to Captains training in Little Creek, Va, and then to pick up my rocket ship in Charleston, SC. A new style, 200 feet long with 2000 horsepower, 10 rocket mounts, 2 twin 40s, and four twin 20s. We went two ships at a time thru the Panama Canal to San Diego, and, after training together as a unit of 12 rocket ships, out to Pearl Harbor for the coming invasion of Japan. Again, thank God, peace was declared and we came back to San Diego via Seattle, WA.

Before ending my service I was in command for six months, of 5 rocket ships which carried about 5000 5" rockets each,of all types, some with miniature radar heads loaded with shrapnel. War is not fun and games!!

It was my responsibility to take the 5 out for maneuvers, practice landings and bombardment, day and nite. We also had a 5' 38 cannon in a turret controlled from plot or the con as anti-aircraft protection and specific point intercidence. Plus two 4.2 mmmortars for defilade firing. We were in one week and out two weeks.

I had 700 men in my command including 7 officers on each ship. There were a lot of 25.year olds in situations of greater responsibility than mine believe me!!!

So, when you see June 6th come around next year, remember, somebody like your Dad was there to protect your way of life, liberty, and pursuit of happiness, and in God we trust!!! Dad, OX"