Illinois' Rock Island Auction Company will be offering an American flag flown during the invasion of Normandy on the USS LCI(L)-421 at Gold Beach in their September 9 auction. The D-Day landings are considered the most crucial Allied victory of World War II.

''They fight not for the lust of conquest. They fight to end conquest. They fight to liberate.'' - President Franklin D. Roosevelt June 6, 1944

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Gold Beach was in the middle of the five D-Day landings. After fierce German resistance, British and Canadian forces were able to move inland to capture the village of Arromanches, the future site of an artificial harbor constructed by the Allies for offloading supplies.

On June 6, 1944, the 264th Royal Canadian Flotilla transported the follow-up infantry battalion of 56th (Independent) Infantry Brigade to the D-Day landing on Gold Beach. The men were faced with the dangers of deep water, as well as submerged shell holes, all whilst under enemy fire. This flag flew from the mast of the LCI(L)-421, amphibious assault ship which transported 200 soldiers onto the beach.

The flag is from the personal belongings of Steve Hudac, the coxswain of LCI(L)-421 who piloted the landing craft onto Gold Beach.

''Steve was the Coxswain of LCI(L)-421 on D-Day and piloted the landing craft onto Gold Beach. Steve told me that during the landing, he was watching soldiers being killed and wondered when it would be his turn…He was later promoted to head cook,'' explained Hudac's sister-in-law (May 11, 2017, dated notarized statement by Marcia Chovanec, sister-in-law to Steve Hudac.)

''One evening, Steve was in the kitchen late in the evening cooking potato pancakes. His commanding officer smelled them and went into the galley. Steve feared that he would be in trouble because he wasn't supposed to be there but explained that he missed food from his native homeland. His commanding officer asked him to make some for him and asked if he could make them for all the others as well…Steve became very close to his commanding officer, Robert M. Paul, after this. Before Steve left the ship, his commanding officer gave him the flag from LCI(L)-421 that flew from the mast during their time on it, including the landing on Gold Beach.”

After Steve passed away in 1996, ownership of the 48-star American flag transferred to Marcia and her husband. Hudac's included U.S. Navy discharge papers clearly list him as a coxswain and having served on the USS LCI(G)-421, the amphibious ship was reclassified as a Landing Craft Infantry (Guns) in July 1945. Hudac's date of separation from the Navy was October 28, 1945. Confirmation of Hudac’s participation in the Normandy invasion is provided by an accompanying June 8, 1944 dated memo from his commanding officer, Lt (JG) Robert M. Paul, USNR, which states that Hudac ''partook in the invasion of France on D day, June 6, 1944 and are entitled to wear whatever decoration are thereby authorized.''

This historic piece of extraordinary World War II history is in the condition expected of a flag flown on a naval vessel that is now over 70 years old: tattered ends caused by high winds and discoloration.

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