In the United States Navy, nothing is ever too late – including that of officially recognizing courageous actions and laudable sacrifices made during combat.
Dozens of corpsmen and doctors in the 6th Naval Beach Battalion who served during D-Day at Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944, an hour after the first wave landed, are being recognized for their actions on that day – after 68 years.
A possible reason for the oversight, as expressed by Kenneth Davey, son of the late D-day Veteran J. Russell Davey Jr., is that many of the officers who would have issued recommendations for these valiant souls were also killed, even before landing in Normandy.
Among those who finally received the Bronze Star is former corpsman Frank Walden of Walnut Creek, California. He received the Bronze Star and a Combat Medical Badge during a ceremony at Naval Amphibious Base Coronado on June 6, the 68th anniversary of the Allied invasion of France.
Nine other surviving medical personnel of the 6th Naval Beach Battalion will also be presented with the Bronze Star at later dates, as well as the families of some 70 deceased members of the battalion.
The 6th Naval Beach Battalion was attached to an engineer brigade with the 1st Infantry Division of the U.S. Army. Its ranks included demolition experts, radio operators, and beach masters, who served as shoreline “traffic cops” during amphibious landings. Its medical detachment consisted of about 10 doctors, including Kenneth Davey’s father, who was 26 years old at the time, and more than 70 corpsmen.