Dr. Eugene C. Deibler
"Doc" Eugene Deibler, a Real Knight in Shining Armor
In August of 2017, we had the privilege of entertaining a real, live Knight at the NarroWay Theatre! Dr. Eugene C. Deibler was Knighted at the request of the President of France into the French Legion of Honor in 2015 for the part he played in liberating France during WWII. Deibler jumped from a plane to land at Normandy on D-Day. Valerie Stancik shared his details with us, including what happened to the parachute he used that day.
Sgt. Eugene Deibler served in the United States Parachute Army from November 1942 through December 1945. He was a member of the 501st Parachute Infantry of the 101st Airborne as a squad leader in A Line Company and G Company, 501st Airborne.
According to ww2-airborne.us, the first combat mission of the 501st Parachute Infantry Regiment was to fly across the English Channel and drop into Normandy on D-Day. The intent of the mission was to land approximately 5 hours prior to the sea landing. Low clouds and enemy aircraft caused the air formation to break up and led to sporadic jump patterns, causing most soldiers to land outside of their designated drop zones. Surprisingly, however, the botched landing confused the Germans and gave the Airborne troops time to regroup. ww2-airborne.us.
Deibler was one of the troops who made the jump into Normandy that day. The dress that his wife, Mary (now deceased) wore for their wedding was made from the silk parachute he used on D-Day. It was donated to the Airborne Museum in Fayetteville, NC in 2011.
Eugene and Mary Deibler on their wedding day.
Mary's dress is made from the parachute
Deibler used on D-Day.
Deibler received a Legion of Honor Medal from the President of France for action in Normandy, 8 June 1944. On his 90th birthday, 8 November 2015, he was Knighted at the request of the President of France into the French Legion of Honor (started by Napoleon) with corresponding medal and title of "Sir." The ceremony was held at the Foundation of the Carolinas in Charlotte, North Carolina.
Deibler served for 37 months during WWII, from age 18 to 21. He received the Bronze Star for action in Bastogne. In addition to Normandy and Bastogne, he also served in Holland and Alsace.
Following the war, he returned to North Carolina where he married, raised a family and earned degrees in Engineering and Dental Surgery. He continued to play the trombone, as he did while serving in the military, until 2013. He has been a prolific portrait painter and landscape designer and has studied and taught Bible classes.
As of this writing, Dr. Deibler has one living daughter, four grandchildren and nine great-grandchildren. His grandson, Paul, was a Captain in the Iraq War.