Arthur Staymates, 89, says it doesn’t seem like it was that long ago that he arrived at Omaha Beach.
“I didn’t believe I would live seven days in combat,” he said. “And here it is 70 years later. I’m still alive. I can’t believe that 70 years has gone by.”
The 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion is a time to reflect on the contributions of Staymayes and the rest of the “Greatest Generation” – those who helped win the war and then returned home to start families and careers.
“We didn’t have what we have in this country before,” Staymates said. “We came home and nobody gave anyone anything. You got out of bed the next morning and went to work because that is what you’re supposed to do.”
Staymates says he and the people of his generation just had a different attitude. And he credits that attitude for his success after returning home.
“Monday morning [after I returned home] my dad shook me and said ‘let’s go,’” Staymates recalled. “I said ‘where are we going?’ And he said ‘work.’ I said ‘I don’t have to work.’ He said ‘get out of bed!’ And I said ‘yes sir!’”
Bill Kraham, 91, who flew two missions for the U.S. Air Force on D-Day, says his time in the military gave him a different perspective on life and an insatiable appetite for learning.
“We’ve not been afraid to do a lot of things and help the growth of the country,” Kraham said. “And that’s why I went into so many different fields”
Kraham went on to earn his law degree and later restored homes. He currently does voice over work and studies astronomy. He still offers free legal help to veterans.
Cumberland native, Brigadier General Randolph Millholland also served on D-Day. He still inspires his family, including former Winchester City Sheriff Lenny Millholland.
“I think that people support the country and whatever the country stands for,” Millholland said. “And people will go above and beyond for their country. And I think that randy did that.”
Staymates said the anniversary is also a time when he will talk with those he served with.
“Every June 6th I get calls from [the men I landed on the beach with] and we talk about the dumb stuff that happened that day,” he said.
For Kraham the anniversary is also a time to reflect on the difference they made.
“All day [I will be] watching everything I can,” he said of the D-Day media coverage. “And then I can tell the kids ‘I was there! That isn’t the way it happened at all!’” Kraham said with a laugh.
Bill Kraham lives in Gaithersburg. You can find his website on astronomy here.
Art Staymates lives in Hagerstown. He said the war wasn’t all bad. He met his wife in Germany. They were married for 65 years until she recently passed away.
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