Rusty Dennen covers military affairs and the environment for The Free Lance-Star. .
Frank Kuhn Jr., D-Day veteran, remembered
I first met Frank at a Spotsylvania High School history program I covered a few years ago. He was among dozens of World War II veterans who would talk to students in history teacher Charles Harrell’s classes about their experiences in a war that unfolded decades before the teenagers were born. I was reminded of that day when I saw that Frank had died last Thursday at Mary Washington Hospital at age 95. His obituary ran on Tuesday. Until a few months ago, when his failing health got the better of him, he would stop by the front desk at The Free Lance-Star regularly, to talk or to lobby for a story on one of many things that interested him–science, politics, culture, the military, inventions. I was always amazed at his keen mind and sense of humor, and the fact that he still got around pretty well, even driving when most of his peers were gone or in nursing homes. He was a frequent writer of letters to our Opinion pages. Two years ago, at age 93, Kuhn called to tell me with great pride that he had received an associate of arts degree from University of Maryland University College. My story delved into that achievement, and touched on other parts of his life, including his presence on Omaha Beach on D-Day. He claims he was the first man on the beach because his combat engineer battalion was sent to the Normandy landing site earlier than planned. He survived five major campaigns in Europe. The last time I saw him, Frank dropped by to suggest another story on his military service after I wrote about another D-Day veteran’s experiences. He wanted to get together for dinner sometime, he said. We never got the chance. I’m sure I would have heard another good story or two.