Claremore Veteran Reflects On World War II Experiences

Sunday, May 30th 2010, 6:33 pm
By: News On 6

By Chris Wright, The News On 6

CLAREMORE, OK -- Memorial Day is a time to remember the sacrifices soldiers make, but one Green Country veteran has spent more than 60 years trying to forget.

Dudley and Helen Hornback have been married for 62 years, but for most of that time, D-Day never came up.

"I tried for 60 years to forget it all. I didn't even tell her about it," said Dudley Hornback, who is a World War II Veteran.

"Since he didn't talk about it, I didn't think about it. I was too young to really realize what war is," said Helen.

Private Hornback, a member of the 29th Infantry, landed on Omaha Beach June 6, 1944. He survived that fateful day that changed the course of the war, but many of his friends did not. 

He says their deaths made him want to forget the entire experience.

"I didn't have a friend to come back with. Everyone that I knew was either killed or in the hospital, or something," said Hornback. 

So Hornback put away his souvenirs from the war, married Helen and took an oil job in Houston. But after decades of silence, the nightmares eventually subsided, the pain of the memories lessened and he began opening up to his wife about the war.

"It's only in the last few years that I paid more attention and realized how much he's gone through," said Helen.

While it's still not his favorite subject, Hornback no longer minds discussing D-Day. 

It's estimated that more than 1,000 World War II veterans are dying every day, and he says if he doesn't tell his story, then no one will ever know what he and his buddies endured.

"I hate to think about some of them," said Hornback. "There were so many that didn't really have a chance, you know?"

Dudley has never returned to the beaches of Normandy. But if the opportunity ever came up, he says he would love to go.