Stanley Kokuba: Normandy veteran shares story 70 years after D-Day

By: Brian Louwers | St. Clair Shores Sentinel | Published June 4, 2014

 Stanley Kokuba, 90, arrived at Utah Beach on July 17 with the U.S. Army’s 795th Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion.

Stanley Kokuba, 90, arrived at Utah Beach on July 17 with the U.S. Army’s 795th Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion.

Photo by Brian Louwers

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Stanley Kokuba
90, St. Clair Shores
Utah Beach

Stanley Kokuba spent D-Day protecting a seaport in Wales, but it wasn’t long until he was sent to join in the liberation of Europe.

He arrived in France on July 17, 1944, with the Third Army’s 795th Anti-aircraft Artillery Battalion, dropped by the Navy on a then-deserted section of Utah Beach.

His group of two dozen soldiers marched into the woods nearby, where they put up two-man tents and waited for their guns and supplies to arrive by sea. When their canteens ran dry, Kokuba volunteered to look for water. He found a well at a farmhouse outside of Sainte-Mère-Église, the scene of bitter fighting between American paratroopers and German defenders. 

“They just got the Germans out of there. Nobody would go with me. They were all scared,” Kokuba said. “I went down there and found a farmhouse, and I knocked on that door. It was desolated, you know — an old dirt road. A little girl came to the door, about 4 or 5 years old. She was scared, too.”

The girl pointed to the well where Kokuba filled the can. On the way back to camp, he crossed a farmer’s field where American troops were ambushed by a German sniper sometime after D-Day. The bodies were gone. Only bloodied, discarded equipment remained. 

“I seen the stuff sticking out of the ground. I walked in there, and there was helmets with bullets right straight through there,” Kokuba said. “The sniper was up in the tree catching them as they came through that field, and he was just picking them off. He must have got at least 10 of them.”

Kokuba took a German helmet back to camp as a souvenir with the water, but he said it never made it home by mail. 

His battery later protected airfields and bridges as the Allies sped across Western Europe to crush the remaining forces of the Third Reich.

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