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VIDEO: Pingree Delivers Floor Speech Recognizing Maine Tribal Elder, D-Day Veteran on 75th Anniversary

Washington, June 6, 2019

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree (D-Maine) spoke on the House floor in recognition of Charles Norman Shay, a Mainer, Penobscot tribal elder, and D-Day Veteran who helped to liberate France and protect Europe from Nazi control in World War II. The 94-year old Mr. Shay returned to Normandy, France this week for the 75thanniversary of D-Day, where, at age 19, he stormed Omaha Beach in the first wave.

To watch or download Pingree’s floor speech recognizing Mr. Shay, click here.

A full transcript of Pingree’s floor speech is as follows:

I rise to recognize the 75th anniversary of D-Day and a Mainer who helped to liberate France and then Europe from Nazi control in World War II during the invasion of Normandy.

Charles Norman Shay is a Penobscot tribal elder and decorated veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. He’s received the Bronze Star, Silver Star and Legion of Honor, making him the first Native American in Maine with that distinction.

He was drafted at 19 and served as a medic in the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division. When he landed at Omaha Beach in the first wave, it was his first time in combat. Armed with only his medical supplies, Mr. Shay charged Omaha Beach dozens of times, pulling struggling soldiers from the sea, bandaging wounds, making splints out of pieces of wood, or comforting soldiers through their final moments.

Mr. Shay makes the pilgrimage back to Normandy every year to remember his fellow soldiers, and at 94 years old, Mr. Shay is returning for the 75th Anniversary of D-day. He is a hero to Mainers, the Penobscot Nation, and all Americans. Our country is indebted to him.

Biographical background on Mr. Shay:

Charles Norman Shay is a Penobscot tribal elder and decorated veteran of both World War II and the Korean War. He has received the Bronze Star, Silver Star, and Legion d’Honneur—making him the first Native American in Maine with that distinction.

Mr. Shay was drafted in 1943 at age 19 and served as a medic in the 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division—nicknamed “The Big Red One.” He was a boy who couldn’t even vote. But he served in honor of his country and its freedoms.

He landed at Omaha Beach in the first wave, marking his first time in combat. Wounded men were immobilized, drowning in the rising tides. Armed with only his two bags of medical supplies, he pulled struggling soldiers from the sea, giving them morphine, bandaging their wounds, or comforting them in their final moments.

Until 2007, Mr. Shay never spoke of his experiences in World War II. But now, he makes the pilgrimage back to Normandy every year, remembering his fellow soldiers who fought there 75 years ago. Last year, the people of France honored him by dedicating a park overlooking Omaha Beach in his name, in honor of his service and 175 other Native Americans who landed on Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Now, at 94 years old, Mr. Shay is returning to Normandy for the 75th Anniversary as a part of the D-Day delegation with his fellow members in service. Mr. Shay is a hero for Mainers, for the Penobscot Nation, and for the protection of American freedoms. Our country is indebted to his service and for the Americans who served in World War II.

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