They Dared To Dream – By Mike Allen

My father-in-law was part of “The Greatest Generation”. I knew him for 15 years before I began to ask him questions about a subject he never brought up; World War II. It took years, and more than a small amount of trickery involving my young son, Coleman, to glean enough of his story from him to do some research and put it all together. A common characteristic of a True Hero is a quiet humility, a reluctance to acknowledge or be heralded for their heroism. This journey of digging into his past, and reading Steven Ambrose’s novels “D-Day” and “Citizen Soldier” inspired me to write the song “They Dared To Dream”, mainly about “The Greatest Generation”. Here is his amazing story below…


Gene Airheart’s Story

In 1942, Gene Airheart was aSlide-38-GeneAirheartInUniform young man of 21 attending the University of Alabama in Tuscaloosa, the farthest he had ever been from his loving father and doting mother back home in Scottsboro. Not unexpectedly, he was called into service by the United States Army during the darkening times of an eminent World War. He willingly reported for duty, and was shipped off to Fort McClellan for his basic training. He was trained as a gunner. His weapon; a Browning M1917 Water-Cooled Heavy Machine Gun, a lethal piece of equipment transported manually on the backs of the gunners to advanced ground positions. His assignment was to the 141st Regiment of the 36th “Texas” Division of the 7th Army.

After training, his unit was transported to Newport News, Virginia, where they loaded onto personnel-carrying troop ships headed for the coast of France. In September, 1944, they finally landed in northern France, off-loaded into a bee hive of human activity in a bombed out, smoldering, desolate village by the sea converted to makeshift sea port. From there, they started their long overland journey across the lands of northern France which had already been bought back with the blood of thousands of American young men.

Their mission was to replace infantrymen who had been engaged in battle since the Invasion, who had pushed the enemy back to eastern-central France and into the Vosges Mountain region. The young men knew that they were headed into the teeth of hell, to the battlefront, to replace soldiers who had been shot and killed or wounded. Despite the anxiety and fear of each young man, there was a strong sense of duty and commitment among the quiet group.

They Dared To Dream

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