My father was among those brave Allies who landed on Normandy beaches now 70 years ago.

Pvt. Mike Simpson was a medic with the 4th Infantry. That day, D-Day, he landed on Utah Beach. In the raging infernal of battle, he treated both Allied and Nazi soldiers without prejudice.

Thirty-two years later, in 1976, I met and fell in love with my wonderful wife, Claudia Gaab.

Both sets of parents had to travel to a sunrise mountain wedding near our house in Colorado, and it was the very first time they all met. Over a beer or two, my dad asked Claudia’s father, Joseph Gaab, if he’d been in World War II.

The next words could stop a clock. He said he was a soldier with the Nazi army and was also stationed at Utah beach that fateful day defending Normandy.

What an amazing coincidence, and thank God neither was seriously injured or there would be no Claudia or Jimmy. Joseph and Mike remained friends the rest of their lives, with never the least bit of animosity. They are not here to celebrate this 70th anniversary of D-Day, but I love them both very much and will never be able to thank them enough for their bravery and their lessons in life both Mike and Joseph passed on to their children. Thank you, dads!

James A. Simpson


Baton Rouge