DORMAN W. CLAYTON
Diane Fischler and Dorman at the Airfest in Keystone Heights,
March 3, 2012
From left to right Diane Fischler, Leo McCracken,
Dorman W. Clayton and Richard C. Rubanick at the
Airfest in Keystone Heights, March 3, 2012.
D-Day Veterans lunch, Feb. 9, 2012.
(one day after his 90th birthday)
At Conestoga's D-Day Veterans lunch, March 8, 2012.
Dorman on Omaha Beach on the 60th
anniversary of the D-Day landing. The
date is June 6, 2004.
On June 6, 2009, Major General Douglas Burnett (left), Commander of the Florida Army and Air National Guard, congratulates D-Day veteran Dorman W. Clayton on his service to his country.
Dorman on left,with Army buddies.
The following are some of the major battles that Dorman took part in. To view, click on the links below.
Normandy Campaign veteran Dorman W. Clayton, Sr., passed away on July 18, 2012, at age 90 in Lake City. He was an “Alabama Boy” through and through, although he spent most of his life in Florida. To Dorman, it was always “Roll, Tide, roll!”
Dorman served with the 186th Field Artillery Battalion. His unit was to land in an LST on D-Day but because the LST was held back, his battalion landed on Omaha Beach on D+1 (June 7, 1944). On June 6, the beachhead had not been established well enough for the big guns. .
The 186th Field Artillery manned 155mm Howitzers. Each gun had a crew numbering 11 men. Each 155mm weighed 6.5 tons and fired 94 pounds (three rounds a minute). These guns could fire shells up to nine miles. Dorman operated one of the four guns in the battalion, #2 gun, as the “gunner” who targeted the mission. According to his 2005 interview, conducted by the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program at the University of Florida for its World War II series, Dorman stated: “Of course, me being the gunner, I had to see the sights, see if I was on target before they could fire. I’d give them the motion to fire.”
Dorman’s artillery battalion took part in the Normandy Campaign, helping to cut off the Cherbourg Peninsula. The battalion served as artillery support at the end of the Battle of Saint-Lô (July 3-20, 1944).
Dorman recalls one nighttime German bombing raid, also known as “Bed Check Charlie” raids: “They bombed the heck out of us and never hit a thing. They didn’t do a dime’s worth of damage. . . . I was in a hole.” And calling to mind the formidable German artillery, Dorman recounted, “We were being shelled by their artillery. . . . It sounded like you pulled a cork out of a jug, and it’d take several seconds for that shell to get to you. . . . Their artillery was demoralizing.”
Life in or out of a foxhole had its moments: “We had one guy that would not dig a hole. . . . I tried to get him to come get in the hole with me. He said, no, I want to see where the shells are hitting.” He remembered that young GI talking about his foxhole philosophy: “If it’s got your name on it, it [a bomb] will come in that hole and get you.” But Dorman responded, “Yeah, but the Lord give me enough sense to dig one to try and protect myself.”
Dorman’s artillery unit took part in the Falaise Gap (August 12-21, 1944) and the Battle of the Bulge (December 16, 1944-January 25, 1945). His crew watched V-2 rockets soaring overhead toward England. From the Battle of Bulge, his unit headed to the Rhine segment of the famous Remagen Bridge (early March 1945)—the last intact bridge across the Rhine.
He spoke of the non-fraternization policy the U.S. Armed Forces had imposed on the GIs, that is, not talking to the Germans as the U.S. Army passed on its way into enemy territory. But toward the end of the war, “You could see a German girl and an American GI with a blanket under his arm headed to the woods. . . . They wasn’t gonna talk things over.”
His unit took park in liberating a forced labor camp, which included American and Polish pilots. This liberation effort included setting up a kitchen to serve the starving POWs. Dorman took part in dishing out food to these former inmates, cautioned by Army doctors not to feed them too much too fast.
Dorman came out of WW II with a shrapnel cut on his hand, but no frostbite or trench foot. He complained little, but recalled the old Army saying, “In the Army, if you don’t hear a rumor by about 9 o’clock, start one.”
The 186th Field Artillery Battalion found itself near Pilsen, Czechosolovakia, in early May 1945. To celebrate the German surrender, an officer—after finding a cache of schnapps (distilled alcohol) in a warehouse—provided libations to the gun crews. “I guess we all got pretty well lit up,” Dorman recalled.
Dorman believed that he had a round-trip ticket from the ravages of war. “I believe I was gonna survive. I believe you’ve gotta have confidence in your Maker.” He sailed from Le Havre, France, on September 7, 1945, getting home early due to the Army’s point system.
After the war, he worked 24 years at the VA in Lake City, Florida. On the 60th anniversary of D-Day, June 6, 2004, he walked across the sands of Omaha Beach once again.
Click on the links below to view..