Reader's Comments

Robert Ragsdale      Fulton Ms.
I traveled the same path my daddy did in Germany 40 years to the day.He was with the 3rd armored div.General Patton.He too was in the invasion of Normandy,. Battle of the Bulge, Liberation of France. 5 bronze stars purple heart he is and always will be my inspration.

Donna Blair     Aberdeen MS
Mr Dulaney thank u for ur service 2 our great country.  I was a small child when my own Daddy went off 2 war.  He too came home.  I can remember seeing the troop trains carrying our boys & German prisoners of war coming through Amory.  My mother worked at the canteen helping feed our boys & the Germans too.  My mother always said these Germans r people too & I would hope that a housewife overseas would have mercy on our boys & feed them too.  I will never forget these memories as long as I live.  Thank God for the victory we won at a great cost.  God bless Mr. Dulaney and all our veterans & God bless America!

My Daddy, Theodore Roosevelt Witt, represented Pontotoc County, Mississippi during World War II.  He served in the 90th Division of the U.S. 3rd Army in the Mechanized Calavary as a gunman in Normanday, France, Belgium, and Germany. He carried Jesus in his heart and a Gideon New Testament in his chest pocket.  He would have appreciated the man in this article.  Daddy lived to be 81 years old.  In 1946, T.R. Witt bought a farm in Ecru, MS, planted trees on his hilltop and a small crop in the bottom.  He and other veterans studied Agriculture classses at the local gin in town.  In 1949, he married Corinne Timbes. Eventually, he served as a guard at the Quacker Oats Chemical Plant in Memphis for 25 years.  He often said that he planted the pine trees when he was a young man and watched them mature and grow old as he grew older.  I still own his land in the town of Ecru, Mississippi.  He was always proud to "be from Pontotoc County". 
Respectfully, Lura Le

Steve Wood     Fulton,Ms
Mr. Dulany,
I salute you and all of your 'greatest generation'. Thank you for your service to your country and for what you did for all of us who enjoy our daily freedom. The heroism and modesty of these veterans is an inspiration to me. This was a great tribute but also shows that the pain of war lasts a lifetime even to those who came home whole (at least on the outside). Mr. Dulaney, I shed a tear for you and want you to know that I will always remember, and teach my children to carry on that remembrance.

Jimmy Pollard     Tupelo
Thank you for your service Mr. Dulaney. Maybe if I ever need a gun fixed, I'll look you up.

Becky B. Lambert    New Site, Ms
Thank you, soldier, for your service!  Men like you are the backbone of our country!  We are blessed by our freedoms today because of what you and all our military did then, and continue to do today for us!  God Bless You!

Pat Mounce     Pontotoc, MS
My son Blake was on these pages a couple of days ago, being one that was lost in Iraq. I want to thank Mr. Dulaney for his service and sacrifice. I cannot imagine the things that he went through, but I admire him for his courage and love for his country.  When you think of the definition of courage, some may think it is not being afraid, but courage is being afraid and doing it anyway.  That defines all of these men that have been on these pages.  Thank you again Mr. Dulaney
US Army Medic Orva Ray "O.R." Dulaney
Mantachie, MS

For the first 10 days of 40 Days of Honor we focused on young men from our area who gave their lives in Iraq or Afghanistan. And while Memorial Day is truly meant to honor their sacrifices, there are many still living in our area who served with significance in some of the hardest circumstances any man could face - and lived to tell the story. Today, on the anniversary of D-Day, we tell one such story.

His name is Orva Ray Dulaney, but everyone calls him “O.R.” He has run a gun repair shop in Mantachie since the early 1960s. His workshop has plenty of room for a man working alone. Inside there is a rugged workbench and a worn out padded stool. The leg supports of the stool are worn out from where O.R. props his feet, supporting his lanky 94-year-old frame. 

Behind the workbench is a row of two dozen rifles, all waiting to be fixed. O.R. Dulaney is a hard-working old man who repairs guns broken by people. But on June 7, 1944 he was a hard-working young man repairing people destroyed by guns.

It was D-Day Plus One, the day after the Normandy invasion. O.R. Dulaney was a medic in the 2nd Infantry Division preparing to land at Omaha Beach. The previous day’s carnage was still scattered across the beach and floating in the water. Battered bodies were everywhere. Although the barrage of German shells and bullets had subsided somewhat, there was still a steady stream of artillery and small arms fire covering the beach. When the front of his landing craft dropped, O.R. found himself waist high in water, wading the final forty yards.

As a medic, his only weapon was a 2-inch pocket knife, meant for cutting the fabric of a wounded soldier’s uniform. The man who would one day be a gunsmith never carried one into battle. He was there to save lives, not take them. It was an appropriate mission for a medic named “O.R.”, except that his operating room was out in the open, within the whistle of bullets flying mere feet from his head.

A tear runs down the old man's cheek as he recalls what he went through as a young man. The scene was too overwhelming then to take in, but he confessed he made it through "only be the grace of God". Even now, nearly 70 years later, it is a subject he keeps locked tight inside. "You wouldn't believe the things I saw if I told you," O.R. said. "Things no man should ever see. Things done to men that no men should ever have done to him." He steadily dabbed his eyes with an old paper towel.

What O.R. Dulaney saw on June 7, 1944 was the remnants of one of World War II's most brutal moments. It was one of its most pivotal moments, too. The Allies had established a tiny foothold on French soil, and from there would begin their gradual takeback of the European continent. O.R. Dulaney's division, the 2nd Infantry Division, would help lead that takeback. His unit stayed engaged in combat for its first 3 months in country.

One of the hardest fought battles he witnessed was "The Battle of the Hedgerows". It was fought shortly after Normandy, but gets overshadowed by the legacy of the beach invasion. It was no less costly however. O.R Dulaney recalled the scene this way, "I could walk from one end of the hedge to the other - some 200 yards - and my foot would never touch soil. The bodies were that thick laid out along the hedge."

In total, O.R. spent nearly two years away from his home in northeast Mississippi. When he returned home to his wife Odelle, he had a 2 1/2 year old son that he had to get to know. Sadly, the little boy named Paul Ray would die at just age 5 from meningitis. It was yet another painful memory that drew a tear from the old man's eye.

There are hundreds of worthy men and women from Northeast Mississippi who gave given all of their life in service to their country. There are thousands more who have given a significant part of it. O.R. Dulaney is one of those. Locked up in his mind are memories that he has carried for years. Things no man should ever have to see. Things no man should ever have to remember. And that is why it is fitting to honor them even now. We pay respect to the memory of the dead for their sacrifice that will never be forgotten. We pay respect to the living for the service they gave, things they will never be able to forget.

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O.R. Dulaney stands in front of the ambulance he drove while serving as a medic in World War II.

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A photo of O.R. Dulaney at age 25, a medic and ambulance driver in the Army's 2nd Infantry Division. Members of O.R. Dulaney's unit hold up a Nazi flag they confiscated while making their way through Europe. 
The Indian Head patch worn by members of the 2nd Division. An old Army photo of O.R. Dulaney that now hangs in their home. O.R. Dulaney and his wife Odelle were in their early 20s when he went to war. O.R. Dulaney's workshop in Mantachie is a place that he feels at home.