On the 70th anniversary of D-Day, there’s a local veteran that Temecula Valley residents can thank for bravely serving in the invasion that helped Allied forces win World War II.
Denver Sayre of Wildomar is 96 and has failing memory, but he can still recall parts of the June 6, 1944 invasion on the beaches of Normandy, France.
“We landed on Utah Beach and then worked our way in from there,” he said. He was a forward observer in the Army’s 4th Infantry Division. His job was scouting for Germans with two other soldiers and directing artillery fire at them.
“I’d give them locations where they (Germans) were,” he said.
Sayre would climb hills and when he located Germans, he’d relay their positions by radio to artillery. He said his job wasn’t too dangerous.
“Actually, it wasn’t that bad because the Germans weren’t paying attention. Seeing someone standing up on a hill, I think they didn’t understand what we were doing,” he said. “They probably didn’t know we were directing artillery at them.”
As he spoke about his war experiences, his wife Arvetta Sayre, 83, assisted him with details that he couldn’t remember. She said he suffers from dementia and diabetes, is legally blind, and recently had gallbladder surgery that caused a blood clot in his right leg.
“I almost lost him,” Arvetta Sayre said.
The couple has been married 41 years and it’s a second marriage for both of them. Together they have seven children, eight grandchildren and 12 great-grandchildren.
Arvetta Sayre said they were married for over 25 years before her husband talked to her about the war. Like many veterans, he didn’t like talking about it. However, that changed when he began attending reunions of the 4th Infantry Division in 1998.
“He’s told me about what he saw,” Arvetta Sayre said. “It’s a lot of horrible things.”
With encouragement from his family, Denver Sayre wrote his life story and war experiences about five years ago before dementia set in. His wife made books with the stories for each of their children.
Denver Sayre’s stepdaughter Shawna Snyder, 60, contacted former Palomar College history professor Dr. Linda Dudik in San Marcos about his stories. She wanted Dudlik to preserve them on her website www.wwiiexperience.com.
Dudik visited Denver Sayre and viewed his war memorabilia. She was amazed by what he had saved. She has since posted his stories on her website and is asking people to send him thank you cards for his service.
“With articles on the 70th anniversary of D-Day in the news come early June, people will want to thank Americans who were part of it,” Dudik said. “Because Denver lives in your area, they have one such man they can say that ‘thank you’ to. He can represent so many others who are no longer with us.”
Denver Sayre was awarded a Bronze Star for his service on D-Day.
“Everybody there deserved a Bronze Star,” he commented. “We were all doing the same thing.”
He wasn’t wounded during the war though he also saw heavy combat in the Hurtgen Forest Campaign and the Battle of the Bulge.
Arvetta Sayre joked that her short husband wasn’t wounded because Germans thought that all Americans were six feet tall so they shot over his head. She said he’s always been teased about his 5’, 1” height, but doesn’t mind.
Denver Sayre was drafted on October 30, 1941 as a private and was honorably discharged on September 11, 1945 as a private first class. He has no regrets about being in the war.
“I didn’t complain about it. I just knew it was our duty,” he said.
Dudik said that thank you cards can be sent to Denver Sayre at 22764 Valley Vista Circle, Wildomar, CA 92595.