Pfc. Robert Grant, left, and his grandson Sgt. Jordan Rabaste. (Courtesy)
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Editor’s note: Sgt. Jordan Rabaste, with 4th Infantry Brigade Combat Team, 25th Infantry Division, from Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska, is among the hundreds of active-duty soldiers who traveled to France to commemorate D-Day. He shares his thoughts with Army Times:
WWII has been a significant event not only to world history, but it has had a significant impact on my family history. My grandfather, Robert Lewis Grant, served om the United States Army as an Infantryman during WWII and fought against the Germans. My grandmother Gudrun Brown, a German woman, and my grandfather Jean-Louis Rabaste, a French Air Force Officer, had met and later married. During this marriage they had two sons, Michel and Bernard Rabaste, both born in France. Bernard is my biological father and served in the United States Navy on the USS Nimitz. Michel is my adopted father and served in the French Army as an Artillery Officer through the French draft, later assigned to General Headquarters in the reserve, before coming to the United States. Each generation of my family has great debt to those who fought for our freedom, the freedom of France, and many other Allied countries. My family is composed of those who either helped to provide freedom to France, Luxembourg, and so many other countries or those who wereallowed the freedom by the victory, dedication and sacrifices of Allied Soldiers. Thanks to the accomplishment and dedication of those Soldiers, like my grandfather, I am able to be here today and serve in the United States Army, and the people of the United States.
Robert L. Grant was drafted into the U.S. Army in 1943 from Fort Dix, New Jersey as a Private and was assigned to one of the most decorated Infantry Divisions, the 28th Infantry Division, 109th Battalion, Company M. He served as a machine gunner during the storming of Omaha Beach on D-Day plus 3, July 9th 1944. He was part of the 28th Infantry’s capture of Paris, and he helped establish a foothold at the Arc de Triumph on August 25, 1944. My grandfather and his unit were the first Allied forces to cross the Our Bridge from Weiswampach, Luxembourg into Sevenig, Germany. He participated in the Battle of Hurtgen Forest during the fall of 1944. From December 1944 to January 1945, my grandfather fought viciously through the Battle of the Bulge, where he earned his Purple Heart and Bronze Star saving another soldier’s life and getting hit with shrapnel. February 1945, German troops in Alsace were pushed back across the Rhine. The Prime Minister at the time, Charles de Gaulle, presented the 109th Infantry Regiment with the French Croix de Guerre. The division returned to the U.S. in August 1945 and was deactivated in December 1945. My grandfather completed his service and was Honorably Discharged in 1945.
After leaving the military my grandfather became a family man and raised six children with my grandmother Carolyn. He became a freelance writer and wrote “Only The Brave”, a book describing the horrors of war he witnessed, under the name Robert Granat. After the war, thousands have written books to help cope with the difficulty of recollecting and surviving the war, but only a handful were published for their indepth philosophical content. He wrote a few children’s books, and was an artist through drawings and paintings of the world and people he interacted with, which also helped him cope with surviving the war.
My father, Michel, took me to Omaha Beach when I was roughly 13 years old, I did not fully understand nor appreciate the Soldiers, to include my grandfather, who made the sacrifices for the freedom of others. I want to attend the Normandy Airborne Exercise to show my support for the freedom of oppression and the American way of life. I want to show that I have not forgotten nor will I forget those Soldiers that made it possible for my family and I to exist today. By showing unity with the French people, I hope to be part of this exercise to show my support of the greater unification of the free world that is always at risk.
Sgt. Jordan Rabaste, U.S Army