We honor the men who stormed Omaha Beach on June 6,1944, and equally, those who were a part of the Utah landing.  And rightly so.  These men offered up and frequently paid the ultimate price to preserve our freedom and are directly responsible for the lifestyle we, as Americans, enjoy today.

But if I could present you an individual who was a part of both the Omaha and Utah landings, and who returned again and again—a total of nine times—during the course of that desperate fight, pegged ‘The Longest Day’, would there be enough honor in our systems to do so properly?

I’ll leave that question to you as an individual while I introduce you to Jack Pickett.

The son of a Pennsylvania coal miner who went on to become a wine steward at the original Book Cadillac Hotel, Pickett joined the Navy following the outbreak of World War II and became a Boatswain's Mate, 2nd Class.  This put him in direct line of fire during the heroic landings of D-Day, when he piloted one of the landing crafts that dropped the infantry within a hundred yards of the beach.  Immediately upon each drop, Pickett commandeered the LCVP back to the ship offshore and brought back another compliment of men.  Naturally, the hazards (both emotional and physical) associated with repeated trips to the hornet’s nest of Omaha and later, Utah beaches, and the sight of American casualties littering the shoreline cannot be overstated.  Yet they were performed as near-routine by this remarkable sailor, who maintains among his souvenirs a Nazi helmet and a bayonet which he took from a prisoner following the assault.

Hard to associate such a valiant warrior with the simple pleasures of gardening and piano playing?  I will now take you to the Brighton home of Jack Pickett today.  Living alone since the passing of his beloved wife Rolande four years ago, Pickett cultivates half an acre of vegetables and flowers, clears wood from his seven acres with which he heats his home.  This follows varied careers as a tool and die maker and a tonsorial instructor:  “Barber,” he shares for those who don’t know.  The one common denominator in his talents, hobbies and professions have been his ability to use his hands as well as his head. 

Resilience and self-sufficiency saw him through the toughest hours of the longest day, and sustain him to the present.

As you might imagine, Pickett fears nothing.  “Keep alert,” is his advice, “Be cautious in your dealings.  But live life to the fullest.  I have.”





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