By Francis Scarcella
The Daily Item
SUNBURY — Sixty-nine years after 150,000 Allied soldiers dropped into the surf along a 50-mile stretch of the Normandy coast, five Valley veterans fascinated a crowd of 50 with speeches about their World War II experiences.
The Sunbury Rotary Club featured former Sgt. Stan Seiple, 304 Signal Operations Battalion, 8th Army; Sgt. Sidney Apfelbaum, 69th Infantry Division, 1st Division; 1st Sgt. Glen Hooks, 817th Tank Destroyer Battalion; Ellis Wood, 478th Quartermaster Group; and Lee Hummel, Company D, 46th Infantry Regiment, 87th Division.
Seiple had the idea of assembling the veterans so they could discuss their personal experiences from World War II.
Seiple picked June 6 because it is D-Day — when those Allied soldiers were dropped in the waves off the French coast and had to swim, run and crawl more than 200 yards to the cliffs on the beach before they had cover from German gunfire.
The five spoke with pride Thursday night at the Edison Hotel, Sunbury.
“I’m very glad to be here tonight,” Wood said. “This is so very nice that Stan (Seiple) set this up.”
Those in attendance listened to every word the veterans spoke.
“It was a cold winter day in February 1943 when I made my way to Third and Arch street to catch a ride with 500 other young men because the Army was calling,” Apfelbaum said. “I was with the same group of young men that also didn’t want to go.”
One by one, each veteran told a different tale of who they met along the way and shared experiences with the attentive group of Rotarians and guests.
“It was a bloody mess,” Hooks said of some of the experiences he endured.
Each veteran spoke for about 10 minutes, but Hummel might have summed up the night when he quoted Gen. Douglas MacArthur while looking at his fellow comrades.
“Old soldiers never die. They just fade away.”