During this 75th anniversary year of D-Day, the Allied invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944, America and our community have lost another of those who fought on that fateful day and beyond to liberate Europe.
John A. “Tony” Fogle of Neeses was 95. After surviving the war, he was a businessman and civic leader whose accomplishments include founding the business that evolved into today’s Carolina Fresh Farms.
His story became known to thousands of T&D readers during the 70th anniversary year of the D-Day invasion when he and 21 other S.C. veterans returned to Normandy. The trip was chronicled by grandson Andy Fogle in a series of articles. And Tony Fogle, who later was named The T&D’s 2014 Person of the Year, told of the experience.
Fogle was part of the 90th Infantry Division, nicknamed “Tough ‘Ombres,” which landed on Utah Beach and fought their way through Normandy, eventually fighting in the Ardennes Forest at the Battle of the Bulge.
In Europe 75 years later, Fogle found the French remained thankful for what the Allies had done.
Andy said, “People came up to Uncle Tony and kissed him and hugged him. We don’t appreciate our veterans nearly as much as they do over there.”
The elder Fogle saw then-President Barack Obama speaking to veterans during the D-Day commemorations in Normandy. And he personally met then-Secretary of the State John Kerry, then-Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and several multi-starred generals, he said.
He went to the same place his division landed, where he said it was inevitable that bad memories would come back to him.
Ironically, one was of the death of a German soldier.
Fogle and several others heard a noise one night that alerted them to the approach of a German. The enemy soldier was shot and Fogle tossed a grenade to make sure he was dead. But his fellow soldiers then began a ritual in which Fogle said he never participated.
“The next thing I knew, the boys were going through his (the dead soldier’s) pockets and one came out with a picture of his wife and two children,” he said.
Fogle said ever since that night, he wanted to try to find out who that man was, to find his family and help them if there was a way possible.
Traumatic experiences were the norm for those fighting at a critical time in a brutal war. Tony Fogle was one of the few remaining to tell the stories of those times, to let Americas not forget that so many died for what we have today.
Fogle reminded us after returning from the Normandy trip, saying he was fortunate to have lived a full life. So many never returned. The trip was to honor those who never came back, Fogle said.