Soldier parachuted into combat on D-Day
Private First Class Doral E. Cummings fought in World War II and earned 11 medals, including the Bronze Star and Purple Heart. Unfortunately, HE passed away in 1997 and never received his Bronze Star.
Congressman Brian Higgins presented the Cummings family, from North Tonawanda, with the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and additional medals earned almost 70 years ago.
Cummings is in one of the most famous and recognized photos of Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower during his command in World War II. The photo depicts Eisenhower, the Supreme Allied commander, in a meeting with 502nd Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division at Greenham Common Airfield in England on June 5, 1944, the day before D-Day.
That evening, Eisenhower's Order of the Day to Allied Troops was, "We will accept nothing less than full victory!" The picture was taken before the troops boarded their planes to participate in the Invasion of Normandy the very next day.
Although it looks as if Eisenhower is giving details of the invasion to his men, he is in fact discussing fishing in Michigan with Lt. Wallace Stroebel. Eisenhower was advised many of the men would lose their lives in the Invasion of Normandy, so he wanted to spend time with the people who would face harm to boost their moral. Many of the men in the photo were killed or wounded in the Invasion of Normandy. Cummings was one of the many injured. This widely recognized and timeless photo appears in countless U.S. history textbooks.
"This picture cements the service and legacy of Private First Class Doral Cummings, and now these long-overdue medals will further serve as a symbol of his heroism for generations to come," Higgins said. "It is our honor, on behalf of a grateful nation, to present this recognition to the family."
Cummings was born in 1924 in Portageville. He and his three brothers enlisted in the Armed Forces in 1941 to fight for their country in World War II. Cummings was in the 101st Airborne Division of the U.S. Army, notoriously known as the "Screaming Eagles" - the renowned air assault infantry division noted for its relentless and resilient participation in the Battle of the Bulge and the Battle of Normandy. Cummings' supportive actions with the Screaming Eagles amidst the liberation of Normandy ultimately qualified him for the Bronze Star, a high honor in the U.S. Military awarded for acts of heroism, acts of merit, or meritorious service in a combat zone.
A citation issued by the Human Resources Command of the U.S. Army details the actions that earned Cummings the prominence of the Bronze Star. It reads:
"The Bronze Star Medal is awarded to...Private Doral E. Cummings...for meritorious achievement in active ground combat against the enemy on 11 June 1944, while serving with Company B, 1st Battalion, 502d Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, in support of the Screaming Eagles' liberation of Normandy. Private Cummings' exemplary performance of duty in active ground combat was in keeping with the finest traditions of military service and reflects great credit upon himself, the 502d Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division and the Army of the United States."
David Cummings, the son of Doral Cummings, reached out to Higgins' office. The congressman successfully worked with the U.S. Army to ensure Cummings was able to receive adequate recognition for the sacrifices he made for his country. When David contacted the congressman's office, he knew his father received the Purple Heart, but he had no idea that he was eligible for the Bronze Star, as well.
Cummings was presented with his father's Bronze Star Medal for meritorious achievement, and his father's Purple Heart for the injuries received in the Invasion of Normandy. He also received the Presidential Unit Citation, Good Conduct Medal, American Campaign Medal, European-African-Middle Eastern Campaign Medal with one bronze service star with arrowhead, World War II Victory Medal, Combat Infantryman Badge 1st Award, Honorable Service Lapel Button WWII, Sharpshooter Badge with Rifle Bar, and Parachutist Badge - Basic with one bronze service star.