View Full Version : The Bergen Record = ( "Yogi" Berra ) "Not just a Yankee"

yankoholics anonymous
02-15-00, 01:28 PM
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Not just a Yankee
Tuesday, February 15, 2000

Staff Writer

LITTLE FALLS -- Baseball Hall of Famer Lawrence Peter "Yogi" Berra may be known for appearing in a record 14 World Series with the Yankees, but the Montclair resident also still treasures his appearance in a greater moment in history.

When he was 18 years old, Berra was in the U.S. Navy and found himself in combat during the D-day invasion of Normandy, France, on June 6, 1944.

The contributions of Berra and thousands of other veterans have not been overlooked, especially by the people of France. They are still honoring the former American soldiers who helped free them from occupation by Nazi Germany.

On Monday, Berra, now 74, was awarded the French Medale de Jubile during a ceremony at the Yogi Berra Museum at Montclair State University. The medal was presented to him by retired Gen. Al Ungerleider of the U.S. World War II Wall of Liberty Foundation in front of more than 30 veterans. Ungerleider also took part in the invasion.

"It was very nice, it was a great honor," said Berra. "It made me think back to the invasion."

On that momentous day, Berra, who served from 1943 to 1945, was a gunner on a ship about 300 yards off hotly contested Omaha Beach.

"I was out there for 12 days. We went in before the Army [transports] and if they ran into any gun opposition we would fire rockets," he recalled.

He also took part in anti-aircraft defense to protect the Army troops as they breached the German defenses ashore.

Berra said that when the invasion started, he could barely see the sky because there were so many planes in the area.

"I remember looking up at all the battleships," he said. "I knew what was going on, but I didn't think I would get killed."

Happily, Berra said, no one on his ship died during the bloody invasion, which landed the Allied troops, who eventually liberated France and helped bring about Germany's defeat 11 months later.

In 1994, the 50th anniversary of the invasion, the people of Normandy, France, minted the bronze medals for liberators of their country. That year the French distributed more than 35,000 medals to veterans who traveled to to their country to commemorate the event, said Jules Blutfield, a member of the board of directors for the foundation.

Blutfield said after the anniversary there were thousands of medals, still left to distribute. He said his organization was given permission by the French to give the medals to U.S. veterans who did not go to France for the anniversary. He said the medals serve as a memory of that day in history.

"When a veteran looks at the medal, he will remember his plight and his buddies who were there with him," said Blutfield, who served in the Air Force from 1941 to 1945. "It brings remembrance, and for the people of Normandy it's a gesture for what they [the troops] did."

He said more than 6,000 medals, which contain the name of the beaches where the Allied troops fought, have been distributed to New Jersey veterans since the anniversary.

Over the years, Berra remained low-key about his service. His fame came as a Yankee from 1946 to 1963 and as the greatest Yankees catcher of all time, who was named American League Most Valuable Player three times in the 1950s and inducted into baseball's Hall of Fame in 1972. On Monday, he maintained the reserve that has been a hallmark of many veterans of World War II.

"I never brought it up. I never said that I was in the service, unless someone asked me," said Berra. "There are other things to think about."

Copyright 2000 Bergen Record Corp.


02-15-00, 01:47 PM
wow, that is really neat. i never knew that yogi served in wwII, let alone take part in the d-day invasion. thanks for the article ya, it was a good read.

bthl's #1 fan

I am sad to see you go but keep your hopes up and something good will happen to you. Don't go out there not knowing what you want or people will take advantage of you, so take charge and be on your merry way.
CB 6/99

02-15-00, 01:58 PM
...God, I had no idea Yogi was in the thick of it over there..... and it sounds like it never occurred to him that he could've been killed...

We forget how young these guys were (and are) that find themselves in battle - they're BABIES....

Yogi - Only makes me love and cherish him more.


Yanks-Past and Present
02-15-00, 05:08 PM
Interesting, I had no idea Yogi served, and it only makes love the guy more!

Cuz we're the Yanks and we're on the top,

We sweep out the opposition with a broom and mop,

Give the bat to Bernie, he ain't shy,

Every single year we get a by,

Jeter divin' on the dirt, makin' the double play,

Mutts fans, close your eyes 'cause today is a Yankee day!

02-15-00, 05:34 PM
Good article!....I'm not surprised that whether he was on the battlefield or the playing field, Yogi kicked ***!

Yogi pictured here with his father and brother John in St. Louis in 1944.

1956 World Series

One of the many highlights of '99 was Yogi coming back home to the Bronx.


[This message has been edited by bxny (edited February 15, 2000).]

02-15-00, 11:02 PM
Great article, great picures!


02-19-00, 09:03 PM
Here's a picture I found of Yogi and Ted Williams. Williams put up some great numbers against the Yanks. Like Yogi, he also served in WWII.


Williams slides safely across the plate, just ahead of the tag of Yankees catcher Yogi Berra in a 1951 game. During his career, Williams batted .345 with 62 home runs and 229 RBIs against the Bronx Bombers, but the Red Sox finished ahead of New York just twice in the 17 full seasons he played.

Here's a couple more of Williams....


Williams is sworn in as a Navy pilot after the 1942 season. He would miss three full seasons during World War II and most of two others in Korea, essentially losing five years of baseball in the prime of his career.


Joe DiMaggio (left) and Williams exchange greetings at the 1941 All-Star Game in Detroit. Williams would finish the season with a .406 batting average, the last man to clear .400, but DiMaggio would be named MVP on the strength of his record 56-game hitting streak.