Merwyn R. Hilltuck, now 79, who had been feared killed in action at Normandy on D-Day, has been found in Nebraska, alive and well, wearing a now tattered Army uniform, and still desperately looking for Omaha Beach, where he was ordered to go fight in 1944.
As it turns out, when the then 19-year-old was ordered to report to his unit, Baker company, 116th Infantry, 29th Division, for what he was told was an invasion of Normandy at the area code-named "Omaha Beach", Hilltuck thought he'd meet his comrades directly at the spot of the invasion.
That's when the mix-up occurred.
"He was always a confused teenager, and it turns out that's what saved his life", said Hilltuck's sister, Beulah. "He went to Nebraska, desperately searching for his unit, but never found them. The important thing is that he never stopped looking."
According to area resident Phil Swanson, this isn't a real shock. "Stories have circulated throughout Omaha, Nebraska for decades about a khaki covered, rifle weilding man marching around town asking where the beach is. Everybody just laughed and thought it was a joke, but I'll be darned if he was serious."
For now, Hilltuck is happy to be reunited with his sister and other family members.
"I'd do it all over again", Hilltuck exclaimed, with tears welling up in his time worn and battle weary eyes. "I just wish the majestic and sacred burial ground you see here where my unit was lost wasn't being desecrated by a 'Mutual of Omaha' building."
Merwyn R. Hilltuck--99% confused, but 100% patriot!
Authors note: Hilltuck's father, Harold, gallantly fought WWI from a hastily dug bunker just north of San Francisco, or what he understood to be the "Western Front". Hilltuck's grandson, Mikey, joined the service in 2002 to fight for his country in the Middle East, and was recently spotting in full battle gear rolling into Pennsylvania