Wednesday, November 11, 2009
The “Dee-feator” pictured here crossed the Normandy coast 17 minutes ahead of the invasion fleet on June 6, 1944. Technical Sergeant (TSgt) Artie 'Jack' Cotner, who served as Radio-Gunner on this aircraft, was on that flight, and later that day joined another aircrew to once again fly into France. He is the only known enlisted man to have crossed the Channel twice on D-Day.
TSgt Cotner enlisted in the Army Air Corp one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor, serving in both the Pacific and European campaigns. He was a gunner on the B-17 Flying Fortress with the 19th Bomb Group and fought with honor in the Coral Sea battle, over New Guinea, and at Guadalcanal. After surviving those harrowing battles in the Pacific, TSgt Cotner joined the 397th Bomb Group and flew more than 66 missions over Europe with the B-26 Marauder Bomber unit.
The “Dee-feator” was named for Dee McCloud, wife of pilot Colonel McCloud.