D Day Story
Armed Forces Support Group (AFSG) founder Barry Curseaden and fellow member Bob Aiken, who serves on the Grand's Board of Directors, present Charles "Chuck" Seiter with a token of appreciation for sharing his stories from surviving the unknowns of D-Day to being an acclaimed engineer.
In addition to a coin with the inscription: "We Shall Never Forget," Seiter received a hat from the two members who jokingly told him that if he's ever in a bar and someone puts that coin on the table first, he has to buy the drinks.
Seiter and his wife of 71 years, Ruth, a nutritionist, who "took good care of him," have been part of Grand's history for about 23 years since settling in Arizona. The "history buffs" have two adult children, a granchild and two great-grandchildren who enjoy their stories, including humble beginnings on the East Coast.
Sitting comfortably in the Seiter's family room, Curseaden and Aiken recently listened to the veteran recount stories from childhood, how he met his young wife, and his recollection of June 6, 1944, while commemorating the 79th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.
The operation helped change the course of World War II as land, air, and sea forces of the allied armies banded together in what was known as the largest amphibious invasion in military history, according to published reports, detailing the operation, codenamed OVERLORD, which delivered five naval assault divisions to the beaches of Normandy.
Seiter described being aged 22 in charge of 15 people, getting shipped to Utah and back to New York, and being put on a boat to an unknown destination. He notes sailing for 15 days, high waters, and hundreds of men overloaded on the vessel.
"The waves were probably 20 feet," said Seiter, remembering eating some Spam and Brussel sprouts on board.
"My father was in the Army Air Corp, based at Allied Headquarters in London …intelligence division, 1943," stated Cathy Lamontagne, adding on June 7, 1944, he landed on Utah Beach. "[He] made his way to Paris, then Versailles to help set up headquarters for General Eisenhower.
[He] was supposed to go to Battle of the Bulge, orders cancelled one hour before he was to leave. The other six soldiers went…all were killed."
His stories were even chronicled at The National WWII Museum, in New Orleans, which had a display honoring Seiter, who was on a LST Southampton to Utah Beach. "Six guys before me, they never came back," Seiter said.
He remembered planes all over Utah Beach, where he landed, paratroopers, devastation, drownings, ambushes, and more.
"Behind every hero is a warrior," he said, humbly noting that he was not a warrior. "I had my gun, but I wasn't an invader." Always wanting to be an engineer, from the time he attended Brooklyn Tech, Seiter was heavily involved in the construction of the Angels Stadium, Dodgers Stadium, Petco Park baseball stadium in downtown San Diego, the Anteater Stadium at the University of Irvine and more.