Today’s #VeteranOfTheDay is Army Veteran Preston Earl Bagent, who was among the first wave of soldiers to storm the beaches during D-Day.
St. Louis native Preston E. Bagent was a draftsman by trade, working for Emerson Electric as a young man. When the Army drafted him in 1943, they took advantage of his engineering skills, placing him in the 149th Engineer Combat Battalion. Bagent used his artistic and engineering ability to aid the war effort in countless ways. One of his many projects was making a model of Normandy Beach. The Army used the model for invasion day to try and locate points of entry, bunkers and enemy headquarters.
Bagent described the coast of Normandy as peaceful and even calming, though a battle raged on the beaches that would cost many their lives. As he wrote in one of many letters to his girlfriend, D-Day was his “first taste of real combat”. He wrote that as soon as he touched the sand, there was a burst of machine gunfire overhead, and everyone hit the ground. He and the rest of those on the beach hunkered down in the sand, waiting for a counterattack that, luckily, never came.
After fighting in D-Day, Bagent and his unit traveled from France to Belgium, Holland, and finally Germany, rebuilding roads and bridges. After the war, Bagent served as an artist at Scott Air Force Base in Illinois, designing training manuals. He ended his career with the St. Louis Dispatch, working as an artist in the advertising creative services department.
Bagent died in December 2002 at age 84.
We honor his service.
More of his story is at http://memory.loc.gov/diglib/vhp/story/loc.natlib.afc2001001.46886/.
Do you want to light up the face of a special Veteran? Have you been wondering how to tell your Veteran they are special to you? VA’s #VeteranOfTheDay social media feature is an opportunity to highlight your Veteran and his/her service.
It’s easy to nominate a Veteran. Visit our blog post about nominating to learn how to create the best submission.
Veterans History Project
This #VeteranOfTheDay profile was created with interviews submitted to the Veterans History Project. The project collects, preserves, and makes accessible the personal accounts of American war Veterans so that future generations may hear directly from Veterans and better understand the realities of war. Find out more at http://www.loc.gov/vets/.
Editor: Kailey Miller
Graphic artist: Ian Williams