Minot man recalls D-Day in 1944
Ed Zilli of Minot and other members of the 4th Infantry Division of Gen. George S. Patton’s Third Army landed on the beaches of Normandy, France, during the D-Day Invasion in 1944.
Zilli and thousands of other soldiers from the United States, United Kingdom and Canada landed on the beaches in the largest amphibious invasion in the history of warfare.They stormed the beaches to push the Nazis out of western Europe.
A decorated World War II veteran and retired Suffolk County, New York, police force captain, Zilli remembers there were many boats and it didn’t take them very long to cross the English Channel to get to Normandy. But once they got there he said, “all hell broke loose,” as they pushed forward.
From France, the soldiers went across Germany.
As the soldiers made their way across Europe, they were in many battles including the Battle of the Bulge, also known as the Ardennes Offensive. That battle marked the last major German offensive campaign on the Western Front during World War II.
When the war ended in 1945, Zilli said they were in Czechoslovakia.
Zilli received five battle stars. One of the stars is for the Normandy Invasion.
He was discharged from the Army but re-enlisted and went to Germany, bringing about his total time in the Army to 10 years.
He and his wife, Margarhetta, of Germany, moved to New York where he was on the Suffolk County police force for 25 years, retiring as a captain. They moved to Florida for a time before moving to Minot to be near their daughter and son-in-law, Margie and Ted Bolton. Margarhetta died in 2008.
Zilli turned 100 on Feb. 8.
He is one of the diminishing number of World War II veterans who are living today. According to U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statistics, 119,550 of the 16.1 million Americans who served in World War II are alive as of 2023.
Zilli has been honored for his military service. He and three other World War II veterans were invited on a flight in a C-53 over Minot during the Dakota Territory Air Museum’s 75th anniversary of D-Day in 2019. The Quilts of Valor Foundation in North Dakota presented him with a handmade quilt in 2020 to thank him for his service.