Allegan County News & Union Enterprise News

Louis Stoel returns to Normandy for D-Day Anniversary

By Donald Talonen

On June 6, 2024, the American Battle Monuments Commission (ABMC) commemorated the 80th anniversary of the D-Day landings. Approximately 10,000 individuals participated in the ceremony at Normandy American Cemetery. Among them was a local Veteran named Louis M. Stoel, who recently made his first visit to Normandy in 80 years.
Born on December 28, 1923, in Holland, Louis Stoel currently resides in Pullman. Despite his mother’s objections, he enlisted in the United States Army at the age of 22. His commendable service in the 45th Infantry Division earned him several accolades, including the Purple Heart Medal with Cluster, Good Conduct Medal, Oak Leaf Cluster, and EAME Campaign Medal. Louis was a combat infantryman who served in Italy, Southern France, and Germany.
During his second day of combat in Italy, Stoel was wounded and received his first Purple Heart medal. He also provided medical assistance to a fellow soldier who was injured during the attack. Unfortunately, the soldier lost a portion of his foot, and six others did not survive their injuries.
During his time in Anzio, Stole vividly described it as “the worst place in the world,” recounting the harrowing experiences of dealing with anti-aircraft guns. He recalled the heart-wrenching sight of fellow soldiers’ parachutes catching fire as they deployed, leaving them helpless and in disbelief as they plummeted to their deaths.
After the Anzio operation, Stoel found himself in Southern France, near La Basseville, where he sustained a gunshot wound to the leg, marking the second time he was wounded. As a result, he earned an Oak Cluster to accompany his Purple Heart medal from his time in Italy. Following his injury, Louis spent the remaining four months of his service as a Quartermaster, away from the battlefield.
Louis spoke fondly of the people and his time back in France and he said, “The French were very grateful and appreciative; they were unbelievably kind,” and added, “They love Americans for chasing the Germans away, without us they would not have a county.”
On the occasion of the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy, we came together to honor history and celebrate the enduring spirit of unity. This event allowed us to pause and remember the past, recognize the challenges of the present, and envision a future guided by the lessons of history, paving the way for a world filled with peace and understanding.
Louis said, “This was the greatest trip I ever had.”
The commemoration event had deep significance beyond reminiscing. It emotionally highlighted the continuing fight for freedom and peace. On that momentous day, world leaders, veterans, and citizens from across the world came together to pay tribute to the bravery and selflessness of those who fought for freedom.
The Normandy World War II cemetery in France contains the graves of nearly 9,400 war dead, and nearly 1,600 names on the Walls of the Missing, most of whom lost their lives in the D-Day landings and ensuing operations. D-Day is the largest seaborne invasion in history.

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