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“I just read his letter of June 3rd 1944. I thank him for his bravery. I am filled with joy to know that he survived the longest day and had a long...Read More ยป
1 of 1 | Posted by: Mark McLeod - Bedford

Normandy, France - D-Day . . . and after seventy-five years their stories never get old . . . here's the story of one of the men, Worcester native and Watertown resident John 'Frank' Dulligan, who was on the beach that day, and whose family cherishes his memory still . . .

Before the sun set on the French coast that Tuesday night seventy-five years ago Colonel Dulligan and his men, boys really, were tired and exhilarated at the same time, just happy to have made it to shore, off the boats and onto the beach without getting killed . . .

Their uniforms were wet, their goose-bumped skin felt like leather but they weren't cold yet . . . too much adrenaline still coursing through their system; protecting them from the chill that would come later with a vengeance . . .

On the beach their nostrils were still clogged with the pungent smell of the diesel fuel burned by the groaning engine of their boat . . . and they couldn't hear anything . . . after more than twelve hours in the Higgins boat and being met with constant shelling on the beach, from both directions, the Colonel and his men found themselves amused by the stupidest things . . . complaints about sand in the boots or being unable to light a cigarette because a pack of Lucky's got wet on the way over . . . nervous chatter kind of stuff with awkward smiles all around just knowing that to be here at all was no minor miracle . . .

That night no one slept, especially the 'old men' like the Colonel who had to stay upbeat . . . always encouraging the men to keep moving . . . keep moving . . . keep moving . . . keep moving. They weren't sure what the outcome of the day's events would bring . . . The Longest Day . . . but less than a year later an enslaved continent was set free from tyranny . . . and yes . . . their noble sacrifice that day made the difference.

And then . . . they had to face June 7th . . .

May their memories be eternal.

John F. "Frank" Dulligan, 76, of Shrewsbury, formerly of Watertown died on October 2, 1985 in the Beaumont Nursing Home in Westboro.

A retired Army colonel and veteran of World War II, he participated in the invasion of North Africa and the D-Day invasion at Normandy and had been awarded the Silver and Bronze Star among other military awards including The Purple Heart, Combat Infantryman's Badge and decorations from the French and Belgian governments. Colonel Dulligan was a retired Civil Defense and federal Veterans Administration official. He was the coordinator of adult education for the Massachusetts Civil Defense Agency prior to his retirement in 1973. He previously served as director of the Army Command and General Staff College at the Boston Army Base, 13th Army Corps.

He began his military career with Citizens Military Training Camps, from which he graduated in 1928. He joined the Enlisted Reserve in Worcester in 1931 and was commissioned a second lieutenant two years later. During World War II, he commanded an infantry company of the 26th Infantry Regimental Combat Team, which invaded North Africa in 1942, and joined forces with the British Eighth Army in Tunisia. After the North African campaign, he was assigned to a special amphibious school at Arzeu, North Africa, to plan for the invasion of Sicily. He later was assigned as chief transport quartermaster for the Regimental Combat Team Invasion Force.


As executive officer in the Second Battalion, 26th Infantry Regiment, Col. Dulligan participated in the invasion at Omaha Beach in Normandy and later in all of the European Theater of operations. He was wounded in the Hurtgen Forest, Germany but rejoined his regiment for the Battle of the Bulge. He was later assigned command of the First Battalion of the regiment which he commanded until the end of the war.
A letter, written by Col. Dulligan to his wife on the eve of the Normandy invasion was reprinted by Cornelius Ryan in his book, "The Longest Day," the story of the D-Day invasion.

From 1946 to 1960, he served as Chief of the Education and Training section of the Boston Regional Office of the Veterans Administration.
He was born in Worcester, son of the late John and Mabel (Curtain) Dulligan. He resided in Watertown for 28 years and was active in the community. Mr. Dulligan was chairman of the first community-wide fundraising campaign in Watertown to benefit Channel 2.

He graduated from Classical High School and the College of the Holy Cross with honors in 1935. He also graduated from the Army Command and General Staff College at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas; the Navy Amphibious School, Little Creek, VA; The Air-Force Air-Ground School at Fort Bragg, NC and the Army (Armor) Methods of Instruction School at Fort Knox, KY.

Colonel Dulligan was the husband of the late Rita (Connor) Dulligan, who died in 1979. He leaves his three daughters, Patrica (Dulligan) Heald and her late husband Stephen (2009) of Shrewsbury; Ann Freeman and her husband Lloyd of Virginia and Barbara Leone and her husband Donald of Watertown; 10 grandchildren and many nieces and nephews.