Charlie Wannan, Jr. At Omaha Beach

Charlie Wannan, Jr, was a Second Lieutenant at Omaha Beach. He was wounded as he led his platoon over a rise just off  the beach. At a critical moment, he tripped over a root and fell into a ditch.  At that moment, a German 88mm shell burst overhead, killing those around him. He received a head wound and had a steel plate inserted to replace the lost skull.
That tripping over a root was his lucky moment and mine, too, as he went on to become a science teacher and coach at my school.  I took his second grade science course and learned alot. He used a skeleton that emerged, dangling, from an upright case so he could illlustrate skeletal structure. He made us figure out whether the skeleton belonged to a man or woman. The pelvis, as we later learned, was the key to that riddle of the female skeleton. When I was stuck on an exam question, “What part of the body acts like a camera shutter?  He bent down in front of me, blinking continuously. I got it. 
Later, he was my track coach. He was a calm, reflective, very supportive coach, unlike others I had who were abrasive.
Today, I think of my connection to Omaha Beach and am thankful that Coach Charlie survived his wounds to become an important part of my life and the lives of all the students and athletes his beneficence touched.
He did not tell me this story, it was another coach. He was explaining why Coach Charlie was so quiet, implying that he was not quite right. For me, he was perfect, the teacher and coach that listened when I spoke, helped when I needed it and cheered when I deserved it. Thanks, Coach Charlie, I appreciate you and salute you on this, the 70th Anniversary of your ordeal, and, gratefully, your survival on Omaha Beach.

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