On June 6, 1944, the Americans and the Allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, with 150,000 soldiers, 5,000 ships, and 11,000 aircraft in a titanic battle to breach Hitler’s fortified Atlantic Wall. Operation Overlord was the largest invasion in world history; the forces of democracy and freedom were in a fight to the finish against powerful totalitarian regimes and their ideologies. The invasion drew upon all the physical, spiritual, material, and human resources of our great nation. Brave, young Americans overcame daunting odds as they fought their way across Utah and Omaha beaches. These boys, doing the deeds of men, that day changed the course of history.
On June 6, 2014, Staff Sergeant Leonard (ne´ Ladislav) Jindra, who emigrated legally, from the 1st CzechoSlovak Republic to the USA, before WWII, celebrated the 70th anniversary of his participation, as an infantryman and a rifleman in Operation Overlord, the Allied Invasion of Adolph Hitler’s Fortress Europe on D-Day. Fulfilling a promise made to his mother before he left his village of Konkovice, Jindra enlisted in the U.S. Army after undergoing voluntary surgery, to change his status from 4F (medically unqualified for duty) to A1 (fit for full duty). Jindra served with the 29th (Let’s Go!) Division, landing on Omaha Beach in the second half of the first wave, in the early morning hours of the day history shall remember as D-Day. Throughout the campaign through St. Lo, France, he sustained numerous injuries and was medically evacuated from the European Theatre of Operations with near mortal wounds after 56 consecutive days in combat. Before his convalescence was completed, Jindra volunteered to serve as a spy, traveling behind enemy lines, to pass classified messages and to obtain information for the Allies.
Jindra has been awarded the insignia of Chevalier of the French Legion d’honneur (Legion of Honor), on behalf of the grateful people of France by the President of the French Republic, Mr. Francois Hollande. The French Legion of Honor is an order of distinction first established by Napoleon Bonaparte in May of 1802 and is the highest decoration bestowed in France; it is awarded to honor the heroism of veterans who have sacrificed their lives to protect France. The Consul General of France in New York, Mr. Betrand Lortholary, stated, “This prestigious distinction underlines the deep appreciation and gratitude of the people of France, for your heroic contribution to the liberation of our country during World War II. We will never forget the commitment of the American heroes, like you, to whom France owes so much.”
Jindra was awarded the Cross of Merit of the Minister of Defense of the Czech Republic from the Czech government and the President of the Czech Republic, Mr. Milos Zeman. The Cross of Merit is the highest decoration bestowed by the Czech Republic and is awarded to soldiers in recognition of their heroism, for successful leadership during battle, and for meritorious service in combat activities. The Consul General of the Czech Republic, Mr. Martin Dvorák, presided over a teleconference, which was hosted by the Czech Ambassador to the United States of America, Mr. Petr Gandalovic. The Czech Minister of Defense, Mr. Martin Stropnický, recognized Jindra, in honor of his service to the invasion of Europe, the Normandy campaign, and the D-Day landing at Omaha Beach.
On Friday, June 6, 2014, at the Inn at New Hyde Park, Jindra was honored by family, friends, diplomats, and comrades-in-arms; beautiful hand-made patriotic decorations were supplied by his daughter and son-in-law, Diana and Stephen Trachtulec. Upon his arrival, he was surprised by his neighbor Michael Cantillon, of the Floral Park Volunteer Fire Department, and other members of the Nassau County Firefighter Pipes and Drums, and piped into the room to “The Army Goes Rolling Along” and after grace was said, to “Amazing Grace. Jindra received a surprise long distance telephone call from Mr. Robert Warfield, Esq., son of Lt. Col. William E. Warfield, his commanding officer who led the invasion of 2nd Battalion / 115th Infantry Regiment on D-Day. Historian of the Village of Stewart Manor Sergeant Thomas Lee, Sr., 1st Cavalry Division, presented Jindra with a poster from The Longest Day. Corporal Richard Mooney, USMC, Commander of Floral Park Centre VFW Post provided moving words of thanks, on behalf of all wounded and disabled veterans in combat on foreign soil. Lt. Col. Leonel Cortizo, Sr., U.S. Army Special Forces, and member of Floral Park Lodge 1016, presented Jindra with the highest award from the Grand Lodge of Masons in the State of New York. From Mayor Ann Corbett and Judge William J. Corbett, Sr., Jindra was presented with an award from the Village of Floral Park.
On behalf of the Republic of France, Jindra was recognized by Lt. Pierre Gervois, for the insignia of Chevalier of the French Legion d’honneur and presented with a medal from the French Reserve Officers Association; on behalf of the Czech Republic, Jindra was formally presented by the Consul General, Mr. Martin Dvorák, with the Cross of Merit; on behalf of the United States of America, Jindra was recognized for his service to our Nation by Brig. Gen. Patrick Alesia, of the 42nd “Rainbow” Division. The highlight of the evening for Jindra was when he was presented by his son, Dr. Lawrence F. Jindra, with American Hero, a special D-Day edition of his memoirs, due to be published in the summer of 2014.
For Staff Sergeant Leonard Jindra, who on the 15th of June, celebrated his 93rd birthday, The Longest Day of Tuesday, June 6, 1944, was a day he will never forget; for Jindra and all in attendance at the Inn, the events of Friday, June 6, 2014, was the evening of a lifetime. For Staff Sergeant Jindra, a man and a soldier who lived Private Ryan, it was fitting tribute from grateful family, friends, and allied nations.
— Submitted by Elaine Miglino on behalf of Dr. Lawrence Jindra