Minot World War II veteran in D-Day invasion
D-Day is the day more than 77 years ago when U.S. soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy, France, during World War II. Ed Zilli of Minot lived it. He’s among few living veterans of D-Day.
On Tuesday, Feb. 8, Zilli will celebrate his 99th birthday. Anyone who would like to wish him a happy birthday can send cards or letters to: Ed Zilli, c/o Margie’s Art Glass Studio, 109 Main St. S., Minot, ND 58701.
Zilli was a member of the 4th Infantry Division of General Patton’s Third Army when he and thousands of other men landed on the beaches of Normandy for the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare when soldiers from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada stormed the beaches to push the Nazis out of western Europe.
The code name for the Battle of Normandy was Operation Overload, according to Zilli.
Zilli recalls there were so many boats when he and other military members left England to cross the English Channel to reach Normandy. When they got off the boat at Utah Beach, “All hell broke loose.”
The soldiers pushed forward, moving and fighting for the next months. After leaving the Normandy area and crossing France, they went across Germany, where they fought in many battles, including the Battle of the Bulge.
When Zilli and his men were in Czechoslovakia they received word in May 1945 that the war had ended.
From all this Zilli has five battle stars, including one for the Normandy Invasion.
He was discharged from the Army but after a couple months he re-enlisted and returned to Germany because he felt “they could use me over there.” Zilli spent 10 years in the Army.
Zilli and his wife, Margarhetta of Coberg, Germany, moved to New York where he was on the Suffolk County (N.Y.) police force for 25 years, retiring with the rank of captain. The couple lived in Florida for a time and then moved to Minot ,where their daughter and son-in-law, Margie and Ted Bolton, live. Margarhetta died in 2008.
World War II occurred many years ago but for Zilli and others of the Greatest Generation the memories of it do not fade.