My Grandfather’s Story
Attached is a brief write up of my grandfather’s story. This is from the German cemetery at LaCambe where he is one of the featured American soldiers (it sounds rather odd, I know). His name is Percy O’Dell Forgy, but he hated the name Percy and went by Dell. When I was at the cemetery in Normandy I was talking to one of the guides who features him on her tour. She felt so bad when I told her he would rather not be called Percy she started crying, which of course in turn made me feel terrible.
Thanks for the posting.
Jack O. Forgy about his father, Lt. Col. Percy O’Dell Forgy, who fell the 26th of July 1944:
“Percy O’Dell Forgy was born on July 21, 1902, in Dierks, Arkansas. He graduated from the University of Arkansas in 1925 and was immediately commissioned a 2nd Lieutenant of Infantry, US Army Reserve. …He returned to Arkansas to manage his father’s country store and peach orchard interests. By the beginning of 1941 he had aggressively expanded the orchard and was looking forward to the first good crop in the summer, but instead, he was called to active duty. …He assumed command of the second Battalion, 121st Infantry Regiment, 8th Infantry Division, which was then engaged in the hedgerow country of Normandy.
On the 26th of July, their objective was an east-west highway between Periers and Lessay. At approximately 12:30 p.m., Col. Forgy was talking to one of his company commanders on the radio. He had his helmet pushed back, with the receiver to his ear, when the forward CP received a direct artillery or mortar hit felling most of the battalion staff. A piece of shrapnel hit my father between the receiver of the telephone and his helmet, severely wounding him. Col. Forgy refused treatment until his men were evacuated and cared for. Before the medics could return, he died. …
By may of 1945, there were few of the original battalion that entered France still assigned. These severe losses were especially painful to many small towns in Georgia, as the 121st Infantry Regiment was a Georgia National Guard Regiment staffed with brothers and friends of a lifetime.”
Epilogue: A Son Remembers
“My father was a happy-go-lucky man who never took himself too seriously. I am told by those who served with him that his soldiers loved and respected him because he was a down to earth man who showed that he genuinely cared about them. Although trained as an accountant his first loves were the land and being a citizen soldier. Shortly before the war he planted over a thousand peach trees and he looked forward to retuning how after war so that he could enjoy the fruits of his labor in full maturity. In his letters home, he mentioned little of the war. He preferred to tell about Sweat Peas growing in a French Garden or watching a family of ducks playing in a pond. In one of his letters, he spoke wistfully of coming back in his favorite place, a thick stand of Pine Trees on our farm. Before the war, he would spend hours there with me just enjoying the solitude and peace of the place.
On the day he died, Mother Nature shoed her unhappiness with man’s work. A forest fire, started by a severe electrical storm, destroyed the Pine Thicket and a severe wind storm blew our second year peach crop to the ground. Eventually the pines returned and the Peach Orchard gave us many years of bounty, but my father remains in France, resting there instead of his his beloved Pine Thicket. Many years ago my father’s Regimental Commander wrote me that … ‘he died a hero’s death on the battlefield … for the country he loved.’ All young men, regardless of national origin, who die in War do the same. I am sure that they would have preferred not to die and most probably believed that they would not. But they did, as did many before and after them. As long as they do, the survivors will mourn them, but humanity will be preserved.
After the war, my mother, in accordance with my Dad’s often stated wishes, elected to have him interred in the ‘Normandy’ American Cemetery. My mother never remarried. … She did not visit the cemetery unity 1990. Regulations prevent spouses from being buried with their husbands in overseas American Cemeteries, so she asked that her ashes be scattered at sea off the coast of California where she had lived in retirement. My sister Pamela was born two months after our father died in France. She never met him.”
Percy O’Dell Forgy lies in the American War Cemetery St. Laurent-sur-Mer (Colleville-sur-Mer, block F, row 15, grave 26.