D-Day and the insurance man

The 71st anniversary of World War II’s D-Day invasion was remembered Saturday at a cemetery in France overlooking Omaha Beach.  Thousands of young American boys died there. Thousands more were badly wounded as our troops took the beaches and proceeded north to Germany.


Lawyer Elaine Mittleman, who is a regular reader and sometimes guest writer for this blog, suggested that we ought to remember those heroic kids and those other heroic youngsters who fought their way through Europe and survived to take their places in American civic life. She was correct to do so, and I appreciate her prompting.

Elaine enclosed an obituary from the father of a friend of her’s. It is worth quoting from that obituary:

Charles Gardner Beatty, 89, passed away at 12:40 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 22, 2007, at his residence. Mr. Beatty retired in 1981 as president of Hobbs Miller Insurance. His insurance career began in 1954 and he remained as chairman of the board of Hobbs Miller Insurance and Beatty Insurance Inc. after his retirement.

Charles Gardner Beatty

Charles Gardner Beatty

He was a 1936 graduate of Shields High School. He was a World War II veteran serving as a tank commander with the 746th Tank Battalion. He landed on Utah beach on D-Day with the Allied Forces at Normandy. He took part in the Battle of the Bulge and other combat until he was injured so seriously he had to be shipped back to the US for treatment. While in combat he received the following citations, European-African Middle Eastern Theater Ribbon with four bronze service stars, one Bronze Arrowhead for the D-Day Invasion, a Bronze Star medal with one Oak Leaf Cluster, a Purple Heart with three Oak Leaf Clusters, a World War II Victory Medal, an American Theater Ribbon, and the Croiz de Guerre with a Silver Star from the French Government. While at Schick Orthopedic Hospital in Clinton, Iowa [for two years], he met his future wife, Herta Gutzeit. He was separated from the service on Oct. 17, 1947, as a captain.

Mr. Beatty was a member of First United Methodist Church of Seymour and an associate member of United Community Church, Sun City Center, Fla. He was a life member of the Seymour Elks Club, Seymour Eagles Club, American Legion, Jackson Lodge 146 F&AM, Yorkrite bodies, Murat Shrine, Scottish Rite Valley of Indianapolis and a recipient of the Honorary Thirty Third degree of the Scottish Rite.

Prior to his retirement Mr. Beatty was active in many community and civic organizations including, Seymour Lions Club (Past President and Keystone Award Member), Seymour Chamber of Commerce (Past board member and Treasurer and recipient of Chamber’s Citizen of the Year Award), Boys Club of Seymour (Past President, Honorary Director, Past Chairman of Hoosier Area Council, Bronze Keystone Award winner and recipient of Man and Boy Medallion), Jackson County United Fund (Past President and Drive Chairman), Independent Agents of Indiana (Past member of Board of Directors and recipient of Larry McClain Community Service Award). He was former recipient of Seymour Jaycees “Boss of the Year” award. He served as a board member and secretary of all the Seymour Community School Building Corporations from the Seymour High School through the Seymour Middle School building projects.

Born July 23, 1918, he was the son of Guy and Mary Gardner Beatty, both of whom preceded him in death. On June 8, 1946, he married his army nurse, Hertz Gutzeit. They were married 61 years and she survives.

Charles Gardner Beatty was an ordinary man who did extraordinary things during World War II. He returned to civilian life, after having been grievously wounded. He built a meaningful life. We should remember Charles as an exemplar of all the young men and women who did so much to make this world a better place.*


* In like manner, we should also remember Judge Heaney and the Silver Star. We need to remember him for the extraordinary courage he displayed as an Army Ranger during two days in June, 1944 and for so much more.

Judge Heaney and the Silver Star

On Friday, I posted about Judge Ross and the judge’s valiant service in the Army Air Corp during WW II when he was twice awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross.  Today, I want to remember Judge Ross’ dear friend, Judge Gerald Heaney, who also served for many years on the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals.

Judge Ross and Judge Heaney could not have been more different when it came to their politics.  Both men were very “heavy hitters” on the national political scene and in their respective political parties.  Nonetheless, both men had a strong kinship when they served together as judges.   Their friendship was evident and very moving to those of us who had the opportunity to see it first hand.   I believe that  their mutual respect and true affection arose out of the fact that both Judge Ross and Judge Heaney had a perspective about what was truly important.  In my view, that perspective was forged during the war.

Judge Heaney was an officer and an army Ranger.   He won the Bronze Star, but it was the Silver Star for heroism on D-Day that speaks most loudly.  Remember the old movies showing someone rushing a machine gun hidden in a concrete pillbox?   In Judge Heaney’s case, life imitated art.

Here, in the sparse language the military favors, is Judge Heaney’s Silver Star citation:

FIRST LIEUTENANT WILLIAM G. HEANEY, 01309733, Infantry, United States Army, for gallantry in action in connection with military operations against the enemy on 6-7 June 1944 in France. Upon landing at Omaha Dog Green Beach, Vier Ville-sur-Mer, Lieutenant Heaney and his men were pinned down by heavy enemy machine gun,mortar, and artillery fire. With utter disregard for his personal safety, Lieutenant Heaney stood up, induced his men to continue the attack and led them across the beach to accomplish their mission in due operational time. The undaunted courage and leadership demonstrated by Lieutenant Heaney reflect great credit upon himself and are in keeping with the highest traditions of the Armed Forces.

Reprinted in Judge Myron Bright’s letter of nomination of Judge Heaney for the Edward J. Devitt Distinguished Service to Justice Award for 2005.

Image credit:  Wikimedia Commons.

Image credit: Wikimedia Commons. The Silver Star is awarded for “gallantry in action against an enemy of the United States.”

I had the great good fortune to know Judge Heaney.  He was a quiet, gentle and kind person with a towering intellect and a deep concern for the common man.   Sadly, Judge Heaney is gone now.  Nevertheless, we need to remember him for the extraordinary courage he displayed during two days in June, 1944 and for so much more.


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