After Landing in Normandy
The Don McKee Story
By Christopher Gosier
This photo of Don McKee was taken at a veterans' cemetery in the mid 1990s, while delivering a speech during the dedication of a memorial plaza in Frederick County, MD.
The men died in various brutal ways. Some were instantly killed by mortar blasts. Others were shot. Some lingered for a last few moments of life before slipping away. One killed himself with morphine that was left untended a mistake that might have brought a serious reprimand in a place less filled with random, ubiquitous death.
Don McKee left the University of Michigan for this French farmland where the dead were carried off by day and the living slept at night in shallow pits that they dug like graves. He bandaged the wounded and sometimes retrieved them from the wide-open fields where they lay punctured by enemy bullets. He would walk carefully into the fields, an unarmed medic, hoping the enemy soldiers on the other side would decide to heed the rules of war and hold their fire. Sometimes they didn’t.