THE SECOND World War made heroes of ordinary men who did extraordinary things – including Major John Howard.
From humble beginnings, unlike many officers in the Army at the time, he worked his way up the ranks.
For many, D-Day starts with the Normandy beach landings. But it was the Ox and Bucks Light Infantry that paved the way for the success of the operation.
Major Howard, leading 180 men, carried out the vital Pegasus bridge mission behind enemy lines to capture the River Orne bridge at Ranville and the bridge across the Caen Canal at Bénouville in just 10 minutes. This meant German forces could not send reinforcements as the Allies mounted the beach assault hours later.
Such were his exploits, they were recreated in film The Longest Day.
It will be fitting then when his grave is commemorated on Friday’s 70th anniversary of D-Day.
The community will hopefully come together to mark the key role he played in the ultimate success of the Allied forces.
As role models go, few can be regarded in higher esteem. At a time when footballers and politicians are dominating the headlines, current generations will learn about true heroism and sacrifice.
Thoughts will turn to the fallen, those who bravely followed him into battle, but who never returned.
And we will remember them.