Profile: Art Gilbert
Gilbert was seconds away from boarding a ship to join Gen. George S. Patton’s forces in the Africa campaigns in the early part of the war against the Third Reich when he was pulled aside and reassigned to get training as an engineer.
After years of training, he eventually caught up with the war in England, just before D-Day in June of 1944.
He was in the second wave at Omaha Beach, in the red sector right in the middle.
“If you’ve seen the show, “Saving Private Ryan,” you noticed there was a hill with a gun emplacement. We hit right down on the bottom of that,” he said. “I had people who was right beside me. They’d disappear. Gone. I would say 85 percent of the first wave that hit that beach are still there. Done.”
Gilbert, who served in the 1st Army, 43rd Infantry Division, 430th Anti-Aircraft Artillery Battalion, survived to go on with the rest of the U.S. Army, marching across Europe all the way to Berlin.
He will talk freely about all his experiences in the war except for one thing, the one concentration camp he helped liberate. Ask him about that, and he clams up.