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D-Day Trumpet returns to Normandy Beaches

By Kenny Bierschenk

Carried onto Omaha Beach in 1944 Taps will be sounded on the 75th D-Day Anniversary on this trumpet

This trumpet laid beneath the body of a soldier wounded on Omaha Beach on D-Day 1944.

On May 4, 2019, I “met” the horn I’ll play in Normandy at the American Cemetery on June on June 6th for the D-Day 75th anniversary, and again at Omaha Beach on June 7th, with the 300-member Longhorn Alumni Band from the University of Texas (UT). This instrument was carried onto Omaha Beach by its owner, Richard Wank, the only survivor from his landing craft.

“He was in the front of the Higgins boat, and when the ramp dropped, he jumped out and turned around and everybody was dead,” said Jeff Wank, Richard’s grandson.

After making it to the beach, Richard lay wounded on Omaha Beach unattended for two days with his trumpet beneath him. Read more about Richard who was awarded the Silver Star, a Purple Heart, and a dozen other medals for his heroic service during WW2.

Through an amazing string of coincidences and chance meetings, the instrument will once again be played on Omaha Beach, sounding “Taps” in memory of the fallen. I met the instrument’s owner, Jeff Wank, who grew up knowing nothing of his grandfather’s courageous exploits—and not even knowing that the trumpet existed— until his grandfather passed away.

After a Longhorn Alumni Band rehearsal ended, several of us found a quiet spot in the Byrd Room at UT, to give me a chance to try out the horn. I sounded “Taps,” a bugle call played at dusk, during flag ceremonies, and at military funerals by the United States Armed Forces. Those notes—the first notes Jeff heard played on his grandfather’s trumpet—overwhelmed him with emotion.

All of us involved with returning this horn to Omaha Beach are tremendously honored to play a small part in honoring one man—Richard Wank—whose horn meant so much to him that he carried it into battle. And, at the same time, we’ll also honor the thousands who fell and never returned home.


  1. Tapsbugler Tapsbugler Post author | November 11, 2019

    It would be great to have live Taps there every day.
    Difficult to arrange. That’s why the recording.

  2. Karen Karen November 11, 2019

    Wonderful story! I was drawn to your site while researching the flag retreat ceremony I was lucky enough to see this summer at the Normandy American Cemetery. Perhaps you would have more information about if it is common to have a pre-recorded audio version of TAPS play? That is what we saw when visiting. We felt it would have been amazing to have honored our men buried there with live taps daily. I am sure you have more insight on if this would even be feasible. If so, we were wondering if there was someone you would recommend writing to in our government to petition for a bugler to have this honor each day? Thanks for your help and keep up the amazing work!

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