This is one of those “the rest of the story” stories and I’m not referring to the death of D-Day soldier, Jim Norene, because his sacrifice will live on, but to another incident. See ongoing updates below, as information becomes available.
Jim Norene was a D-Day soldier in the 502nd Parachute Infantry, 101st Airborne. Last night, Mr. Norene visited the Normandy cemetery where his fellow soldiers lay buried. He went back to his hotel and quietly died in his sleep. Reports are that this veteran of the World War II D-Day invasion, was suffering from stage 4 cancer, and it seems that he told his family before leaving for France that he might not make it back home. At this time, the location of Mr. Norene’s hometown has not been reported.
Here’s the rest of the story: In a travelogue posted online, I found a post by an American man, Rustyd, who was in France for the 65th D-Day ceremony. He was staying in the same hotel with Mr. Norene. After learning of Mr. Norene’s death, he and his busload attendees found that Mr. Norene also exhibited “flu like symptoms.” The short story is that Rustyd’s bus made it to the ceremony but were not allowed to get off the bus or even open a window because of their possible exposure to Swine Flu. (Please see corrections in red text below.)
The bus had police escort. The only way to communicate with the police was by cell phone because the doors and windows could be opened. They sat on the bus for about thirty minutes before being returned to the hotel.
A second busload of those planning to attend the ceremony were quarantined before leaving the hotel.
Rustyd said this:
So now I sit at the hotel I left this morning only within a few hours of some of the most historic sites that I have wanted to see for the last 10 years of my life and I may not get the chance to see them.
In the end however, It was a minor inconvenience to know that Jim who wanted to return to Normandy had that opportunity to do so. And for that, the inconvenience was just that. A minor blip in a tour that has been and will be filled with joy and admiration from myself and many others on this trip of the men who jumped and served.
The photo above was taken by Rustyd “two days ago” when he visited the 502 Monument with Mr. Norene.
Update 6-7-09, 6:22 p.m. CST
I’ve received an email from Rustyd’s wife, who says that Mr. Norene will be laid to rest in an American cemetery in Belgium, presumably alongside his military brothers. More details as they surface. (see correction in red text below.)
Update 6-7-09, 8:47 p.m. CDT
Mr. Norene’s granddaughter has left a comment here. She especially does not like our “reference to his burial.” She did not leave details. For the time being, we will our information as it is until we addition information is available.
Update 6-7-09, 8:52 p.m. CDT
It appears Mr. Norene, actually Dr. Norene (he was a veterinarian) lived in Heppner, Oregon. The East Oregonian has additional information about him, along with quotes from his daughter and son-in-law. Read it here.
Update 6-12-09, 8:45 pm CDT:
Some of my information for the original post came from Rusty Dicks who was traveling as part of a group that Mr. Norene was also traveling with. Today, I received two emails from Mr. Dicks, who is now back in the U.S. He has asked me to make some corrections and I am happy to do so:
1) It appears that Mr. Norene will be buried in the U.S. and not in Europe, even though President Obama indicated otherwise. We have no other details.
2) I said that Mr. Dicks and his group were not able to make it to the ceremony (thinking it was the main D-Day ceremony where President Obama spoke) because of a swine flu scare. I said that the group’s bus made it to the parking lot but was not allowed to unload. That was incorrect. They were not allowed to get off the bus at a ceremony at Picauville on June 5th due to the swine flu scare, but the group did get to attend the official D-Day ceremony on June 6th. My apologies for the error.
3) Thank you to Mr. Dicks.