Thursday, March 29, 2018

WW2 D-Day Fallen - Norman Nuckols, 29th Infantry Division + Sam Walton

Sgt. Norman Nuckols landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day with the HQ Company of the 116th Infantry Regiment headed by Colonel Charles Canham, depicted in this painting by Howard Gerrard. 
Norman Edward Nuckols never had a chance to reach 100 years old today. Instead, he sacrificed his life for our freedom.

This profile has been updated to include corrected information provided by Joe Balkowski.

He was born on March 29, 1918 in Virginia. His parents Martin and Mary were also both born in Virginia. His father worked as a farmer. Norman had four older brothers, two older sisters, one younger brother, and two younger sisters. At least three of his brothers served in the military during WW2.

Prior to joining the army, Norman had completed four years of high school and was working as a gas station attendant. He was drafted on April 21, 1941. He became a staff sergeant in the HQ company, 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Regiment, 29th Infantry Division. It was given the assignment of being the first troops, along with the 1st Infantry Division, to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

It is likely he was killed on the landing craft occupied by the 3rd Battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Lawrence Meeks, when that craft hit a mine a few hundred yards off Omaha Beach. Many of the troops were still pinned down when the regimental commander Colonel Charles Canham motivated the men to move across the dangerous beach to the relative safety of the shingle. Companies suffered as high as 90% casualties.

Sgt. Nuckols' gravestone lists his date of death as June 9, 1944. This was a company clerk error. He is one of the D-Day fallen.

His grave is at Woodland Cemetery in Ashland, Virginia.

Thank you William for your sacrifice. Let's Earn It for William.

Sam Walton

Born on the same day as Norman was Samuel Walton who would go on to found the Walmart empire. Sam was born in Oklahoma. He developed strong work habits as a youth and worked his way through college at the University of Missouri and graduated with a degree in economics. He joined the army in the US Army Intelligence Corps where he supervised security at stateside aircraft plants and POW camps. He finished the war with the rank of captain.
Walton started his first store in 1945. By the time of his death in 1992 his company had nearly 2,000 stores and employed 380,000 people.

We will never know if Norman Nuckols or the other WW2 fallen may have achieved similar achievements.

Last year on this date I profiled Navy Cross hero Harold Taylor who was a marine on Guadalcanal. You can read about Harold here.

On behalf of the fallen, if you would like to see more people become aware of this project to honor the WW2 fallen, be sure to share with others on Twitter, Facebook, etc. Thanks for your interest!

I created this video to explain why I started this project:

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Please consider joining the public Facebook group to increase the exposure of this project. Go to: WW2 Fallen 100

WW2 Fallen 100 is supported by

The Greatest GENERATIONS Foundation

“Where Every Day is Memorial Day”


  1. S/Sgt. Norman Nuckols was actually killed on D-Day, not June 9. His death was not recorded by the company clerk until June 9, which probably caused some confusion. Also, S/Sgt. Nuckols was a member of the Headquarters Company of the 116th Infantry's 3rd Battalion, not the 116th's Regimental Headquarters Company. It is likely he was killed on the landing craft occupied by the 3rd Battalion's commander, Lt. Col. Lawrence Meeks, when that craft hit a mine a few hundred yards off Omaha Beach.

    1. Joe,

      Thanks for taking the time to add this comment to provide an accurate record concerning Sgt. Nuckols. Much appreciated!

      Don Milne