Remembering D-Day in Nashua

It may have been more than 3,300 miles from Nashua almost three-quarters of a century ago, but D-Day continues to have a strong connection to the Gate City.

Tuesday marks the 73rd anniversary of the D-Day invasion, perhaps the most important feat of the Greatest Generation. More than 160,000 Allied troops landed across a strongly fortified coastline in northern France on June 6, 1944, to, at a heavy cost, secure a foothold in Europe in the fight against Nazi Germany.

“There are moments in a nation’s history when its future course is decided by a chosen few who walked bravely into the valley of the shadow of death,” Army Gen. Curtis M. Scaparrotti said during a weekend ceremony in Sainte-Mere-Eglise, France. “In such moments, young men and women pledge their lives so that their nation can live.”

Like every big city and small rural town across the country, Nashua has its fair share of residents who made the ultimate sacrifice during the war, and during the D-Day invasion.

This spring, Nashua lost one of its heroes from June 6, 1944.

Joseph Dufoe, known as “Whiz,” died at age 90 in a Lowell, Mass., nursing home. He was born in Nashua in 1926, the eldest of eight children, and enlisted in the U.S. Navy on July 22, 1943.

Dufoe served aboard a landing ship tank during World War II, storming Omaha Beach with the American forces at Normandy on D-Day. He was honorably discharged on Dec. 2, 1945, returning to Nashua to later establish the Mr. Steam Carpet Cleaning Co.

Many in Nashua remember Edward F. Lyszczas, better known as Eddie Lecius, a high school football star in the 1930s and radio personality in the city who went off to Europe to serve in the Navy.

According to Telegraph reports, Lecius’ convoy made a sharp right turn on June 4, 1944, to cross the English Channel from the United Kingdom to the continent.

In his writing, he recalled dawn on June 6 as hazy and misty when soldiers were given their orders.

“The tension increased as the light of day increased,” he wrote, describing commanders shouting from speedboats and aircraft from both armies battling overhead. As the Americans continued to shell the enemy, he recalled German war machines crashing into the sea and exploding on the beach in flames.

“A great cheer went up from all of us. It reminded me a great deal of a football game when a crowd released enthusiastic emotion over a good play.”

These are just two stories of Nashua’s own Greatest Generation. In these troubling times with Europe again experiencing a surge in nationalism and constant terror attacks, it is important to remember the role everyday citizens from cities such as Nashua played to calm the global turmoil more than 70 years ago.