1LT Thomas Meehan III
E Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment,
101st Airborne Division
KIA 6 June 44 over Ste. Mere-Eglise, Normandy
-- Barrie Meehan Meller --
Born in Philadelphia on July 8, 1921, Tom was an artist from the start. He later trained at
the Philadelphia School of Industrial Art to become a commercial artist, but the war intervened.
Always a fine horseman, he joined the Cavalry while it was still mounted, but found himself in
a tank, not so much to his liking.
When the opportunity arose to go into the newly formed 506th Parachute Infantry, he made the switch.
Rising from the ranks to 1LT, he became E Company Commander about six months before the Invasion of
Normandy. His plane, with 21 men aboard, was loaded with Bangalore torpedoes and blew up when hit
by enemy fire in the first hours of D-Day, the remains crashing to the ground southeast of Ste.
Mere-Eglise. I cannot think of a better tribute than to offer one of his last letters home:
"Well, I see in the papers that the Anzio Beachhead is no longer that, and that Cassino
has fallen. Looks like "we ain't losin'".
Looking back at the grim days of '40-'41-'42, it seems hardly possible that we should have
come so far. Those were grim years and we in the States hardly realized it. Now the shoe
is on the other foot and the war has probably been decided in Europe.
Yet, somehow I wonder about this "peace" as all the writers are describing it. I'm afraid
that I am a pessimist with little faith in the realization that any peace will be compromise,
not everlasting. I suppose that people, being as they are, have thought and tried world peace
for thousands of centuries, but war, like the unwanted cat, comes back.
All we want is our way of life and all the handshaking and backslapping in the world won't
change our ideas to conform with the other fellows'. The question is not, "How can we insure
a permanent peace", but "how can we have peace for the maximum length of time and still be
ourselves, unyieldingly?" Natural, human, inevitable. And so, generation after generation has
its day of crawling in filth and extracting the life of some other joker that only wanted peace,
but a different brand of it.
We're fortunate in being Americans. At least we don't step on the underdog. I wonder if that's
because there are no "Americans" - only a stew of immigrants, or if it's because the earth from
which we exist has been so kind to us and our forefathers: or if it's because the "American" is
the offspring of the logical European who hated oppression and loved freedom beyond life. Those
great mountains and the tall timber; the cool deep lakes and broad rivers; the green valleys and
white farmhouses; the air, the sea and wind; the plains and great cities; the smell of living --
all must be the cause of it. And yet, with all that, we can't get away from the rest. For
everyone of our millions who has that treasure in his hand there's another million crying for that
victory of life. And for each of us who wants to live in happiness and give happiness, there's
another different sort of person wanting to take it away. Those people always manage to have their
say, and Mars is always close at hand.
We know how to win wars. We must learn now to win peace. Stick our noses in the affairs of the
world. Learn politics as well as killing. Make the world accept peace whether they damn well
like it or not. Here is the dove, and here is the bayonet.
May we never see the day again that "World Peaceways" and like organizations dull our senses and
make us anything but realists. If I ever have a son, I don't want him to go through this again,
but I want him powerful enough that no one will be fool enough to touch him. He and America should
be strong as hell and kind as Christ. That's the only insurance until human nature becomes a
tangible thing that can be adjusted and made workable."