We walk into the Capitol in Washington sometime in the 90s and see Congressman Sam Gibbons. Mrs. Phred is delighted and calls out his name. He spends 15 minutes with us giving us a tour of the Capitol building. I tell him that I read about him parachuting into France with two cans of cold Schlitz beer in his gas mask bag. He tells me that President Clinton sends him a six-pack every year on D-day
"On June 6, 1944, Capt. Gibbons, 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, arrived by parachute near Carentan, France on the Cotentin Peninsula. Gibbons served in the European campaign to the end of the war and then returned to his home in Florida.On D-day, June 6, 1944 (He wrote "I was there" which has been translated into French) He was recently awarded the French Medal of Valor. On June 13, 1944, the main German forces counterattacked south of Carentan, in a battle between German tanks and the American paratroopers lasting all day, 6 am to 10 pm, the paratroopers gave ground, defending in depth, and bent but did not break before restoring the pre-dawn line of defense. Of the 600 paratroopers that began that day fewer than 400 soldiers remained. Gibbons could count a dozen burning tanks."
Sam self-destructed to some extent, calling the "new republicans" Nazis during a hearing. He was a cool guy...my Uncle Bruce was in his outfit...the 101st Airborne... We've been to places in Normandy where they have the 101st insignia on stained glass chuch windows.
"Sam Gibbons has had a few verbal showdowns with the newly elected Republican congress in the mid 1990s. During a taped Ways and Means Committee hearing, Gibbons stormed off to the microphones explaining how the American children were being railroaded and given no time to speak. He compared the new Republicans to dictators and shouted that he had "to fight you guys 50 years ago," referring to Nazi Germany in World War II."
Sam retired in 1997...he was a good legislator. It's a real shame that his extrreme televised frustration with partisan politics was the last thing we remember him by.