D Day was 68 years ago, Joe Speaks of Arkansas was captured twice during the European battles

I have so much respect for war heroes and I wanted to remember them today which 68 years after D Day. Below I have the story of Joe Speaks who fought in Europe and was captured twice by the Germans.

American GI's clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France's Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied D-Day invasion to chase German forces out of France. An armada of landing vessels sits in the background under barrage balloons. (AP Photo/Wartime Pool)

Photo by Associated Press

American GI’s clamber into a landing craft as they prepare to hit the beaches along France’s Normandy coast in June 1944. The World War II operation was part of the massive Allied D-Day invasion to chase German forces out of France. An armada of landing vessels sits in the background under barrage balloons. (AP Photo/Wartime Pool)

If you would like to read some great stories about some fine soldiers who fought to defend our country then click on the links below. All the soldiers are from Arkansas and I have been writing their stories for a local paper called “The Benton Courier” (now known as “The Saline Courier”).

A U.S. Coast Guard landing barge, tightly packed with helmeted soldiers, approaches the shore at Normandy, France, during initial Allied landing operations, June 6, 1944. These barges ride back and forth across the English Channel, bringing wave after wave of reinforcement troops to the Allied beachheads. (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

A U.S. Coast Guard landing barge, tightly packed with helmeted soldiers, approaches the shore at Normandy, France, during initial Allied landing operations, June 6, 1944. These barges ride back and forth across the English Channel, bringing wave after wave of reinforcement troops to the Allied beachheads. (AP Photo)

Story of Joe Speaks:

On Sunday June 27th, 2010 in the article “Heroes among us,” Benton Courier, there was a story about Larry’s father Joe. Here is a portion of that article: 

Larry Joe Speaks of Cabot is my wife’s cousin, and recently he told me about his father’s time in World War II. Joe Speaks (originally from Waldron , Ark. ) arrived in Normandy six days after D-Day (June 6, 1944), and he was involved in the Battle of the Bulge and he fought at Bastogne . The Battle of the Bulge was the bloodiest of the battles that U.S. forces experienced in World War II; the 19,000 American dead were unsurpassed by those of any other engagement. 

During one day of intense fighting, Speaks was so focused on shooting and reloading during the heat of the action that he did not realize that his leg had been struck by shrapnel during the battle. As soon as the battle was over, a fellow soldier pointed out that his boot was filled with blood. Speaks said he had not felt a thing.  

In another battle, Speaks was on the second floor of a building involved in a machine gun battle with the Germans. Then in the middle of the battle, the soldier in charge of getting the ammunition from downstairs did not return. So Speaks went downstairs to get the ammunition and discovered the Germans were holding everyone at gunpoint. Speaks asked the lieutenant upstairs to come down because the situation was hopeless, but the lieutenant refused.  

Then the Germans took their prisoners and backed off some and bombed the building. For the next two weeks, the American prisoners were forced to march back and forth next to that building with the lieutenant’s boot still sticking out of the rumble.  

When the Germans were not looking, Speaks and another soldier took off running and escaped. They made it to a farm owned by a German lady, and they made up a story that Hitler had been killed and the lady broke down and cried. She allowed them to stay in the barn until the end of the war.  

Joe Speaks passed away on March 1, 1999, at age 73 and was buried in Sheridan . He had received two Purple Hearts, a Silver Cross and a Silver Eagle. 

In this June 6, 1944 file photo, while under attack of heavy machine gun fire from the German coastal defense forces, American soldiers wade ashore off the ramp of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft during the Allied landing operations at the Normandy. (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

In this June 6, 1944 file photo, while under attack of heavy machine gun fire from the German coastal defense forces, American soldiers wade ashore off the ramp of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft during the Allied landing operations at the Normandy. (AP Photo)

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German prisoners of war are led away by Allied forces from Utah Beach, on June 6, 1944, during landing operations at the Normandy coast, France. (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

German prisoners of war are led away by Allied forces from Utah Beach, on June 6, 1944, during landing operations at the Normandy coast, France. (AP Photo)

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower visits paratroopers, including Bill Hayes, at center behind Ike's right hand, in England on June 5, 1944, moments before the troops boarded transport planes bound for Normandy and the June 6 D-Day invasion. Hayes, who now lives in Fargo, N.D., recalls how he told Eisenhower that he was 'damned scared' before the mission, his first combat jump of the war.  This photo became a pre-invasion classic and continues to bring Hayes a measure of celebrity. (AP Photo/File)

Photo by Associated Press

Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower visits paratroopers, including Bill Hayes, at center behind Ike’s right hand, in England on June 5, 1944, moments before the troops boarded transport planes bound for Normandy and the June 6 D-Day invasion. Hayes, who now lives in Fargo, N.D., recalls how he told Eisenhower that he was “damned scared” before the mission, his first combat jump of the war. This photo became a pre-invasion classic and continues to bring Hayes a measure of celebrity. (AP Photo/File)

This was the scene along a section of Omaha Beach in June, 1944 during Operation Overlord, the code name for the Normandy invasion during World War II. Large landing craft put troops and supplies on shore at Omaha, one of five invasion beaches. In background is part of the fleet of 2,727 ships that brought the allied troops from Britain.  In the air are barrage balloons, designed to entangle low-flying attack aircraft in their cables. (AP Photo/files)

Photo by Associated Press

This was the scene along a section of Omaha Beach in June, 1944 during Operation Overlord, the code name for the Normandy invasion during World War II. Large landing craft put troops and supplies on shore at Omaha, one of five invasion beaches. In background is part of the fleet of 2,727 ships that brought the allied troops from Britain. In the air are barrage balloons, designed to entangle low-flying attack aircraft in their cables. (AP Photo/files)

Members of an American landing unit help their exhausted comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944. The men reached the zone code-named Utah Beach, near Sainte Mere Eglise, on a life raft after their landing craft was hit and sunk by German coastal defenses.  (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

Members of an American landing unit help their exhausted comrades ashore during the Normandy invasion, June 6, 1944. The men reached the zone code-named Utah Beach, near Sainte Mere Eglise, on a life raft after their landing craft was hit and sunk by German coastal defenses. (AP Photo)

U.S. Air Force photograph of P-38's streaking towards France on D-Day.

Photo by U.S. Air Force

U.S. Air Force photograph of P-38′s streaking towards France on D-Day.

Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, wait by the chalk cliffs at Collville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment, June 6, 1944.  (AP Photo)

Photo by Associated Press

Men of the American assault troops of the 16th Infantry Regiment, injured while storming a coastal area code-named Omaha Beach during the Allied invasion of the Normandy, wait by the chalk cliffs at Collville-sur-Mer for evacuation to a field hospital for further treatment, June 6, 1944. (AP Photo)

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