Thursday, November 8, 2007

WWII Veteran Survives D-Day, But Not Elder Abuse

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. -- A World War II veteran who lived through the D-Day invasion of Normandy was laid to rest on Tuesday, one month after he was allegedly attacked and robbed.

Frank Magana, 83, was an Army medic, described by family as a soft-spoken individual who never raised his voice.

That's why they can't understand why anyone would want to hurt him.
PFC Frank Magana was drafted in January 1943 and saw his first action of WWII on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
Magana was a member of the Army's 1st Infantry, the infamous "Big Red One."

Magana's nephew, Carlos Gonzalez, said he talked with his uncle Frank for years about that day.

His landing craft was hit by machine gun fire as soldiers dove over the side to avoid being shot.

"Uncle Frank started running into the water to help wounded soldiers and he couldn't even swim," said Gonzalez.
"I asked him how many times he went back, and he told me six or seven, until someone grabbed him and pulled him out of the surf."

Magana documented his unit's march across France, Belgium and Germany with numerous photos, until his discharge in November 1945.
He returned home and left medicine behind him.
"What he saw with all the death, destruction and dismemberment would break down even the strongest man," said Gonzalez.

He worked as a TV repairman for more than 30 years, his quiet unassuming nature endearing him to family and friends.
Magana died Halloween morning at the age of 83.

A couple of weeks before his death, Magana was walking along Brundage Lane near his home in central Bakersfield, when family members say he was jumped by one or two men and robbed.

He was taken to Kern Medical Center where Gonzalez said he never fully recovered.

Bakersfield police are investigating the family's claims but say they can't find any evidence yet that would connect any injuries he may have sustained to his death.

Right now, the case is being looked at as possible elder abuse.
Carlos has honored his uncle's service for years as a member of a living history group that does WWII re-enactments.
He plays the part of a medic.

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