Allens Find Some Closure at D-Day Event

Editor’s Note: This is the second installment in a month-long series about the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

NORMANDY, France – Brandy Allen still hurts. Her daughter Brooke still wonders. The Oskaloosa mother and daughter were part of some 15,000 who attended the commemoration of the 75th anniversary of D-Day. The Allens made the 4,200-mile trip seeking answers and maybe some closure for a man who walked away from their family due to what he saw in his service in Europe.

Thomas M. Richards was drafted at the age of 19 and spent 20 months overseas as part of the 460th Bomb group attached to the 15th Air Force.  He was a tail gunner and part of a group that became known as the Black Panthers.

“He flew out of Italy,” said Brandy Allen. “He flew missions that bombed airplane manufacturing plants in Germany. We believe he was on the bombing run of Monte Cassino.”

That mission was to neutralize what was believed to be a German stronghold. It was considered key because of the high hill on which the monastery was built. Some intelligence reports said the Germans were using the monastery. An American–led raid was ordered and destroyed the abbey. It was later determined that the bombing killed 230 Italian civilians, who were seeking refuge instead. German paratroopers took over the facility following the bombing because of its defensive cover.


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