Two soldiers with Petersburg ties fought on Normandy beaches.

Jack Wildes, left, and George Arends

Many Nebraska soldiers were among the Americans who landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.
Among them were two with connections to the Petersburg area, and both lived through that bloody experience.
George Arends a Petersburg native, was a machine gunner with the Army’s 90th Division.
John (Jack) Wildes, a native of Minnesota who moved to Petersburg in the 1950s, was a member of the Army’s 4th Cavalry Mechanized Reconnaissance Squadron on D Day.
They both landed in Normandy with their respective units.
Arends’ D-Day experience was recapped in a Grand Island Independent story in 1994, marking the 50th anniversary of D-Day.
Back then on Omaha Beach, Arends said he was very lucky to survive.

John (Jack) Wildes enlisted in the Army on March 20, 1941, and was stationed at Fort Meade, SD, with the 4th Cavalry before the war. His unit trained horses until the spring of 1942, when it became a mechanized unit.

On June 6, 1944, at 6:30 a.m., the VII Corps and the 4th Cavalry landed on Utah Beach in Normandy and fought their way inland.

They had secured the beach by nightfall, and fought their way through France over the next seven months

Read the complete story in the June 5 Albion News and Petersburg Press, print and e-editions.