By Matt Helm
BELVIDERE ─ The Friends of the Ida Public Library sponsored a lecture by Robert Mueller titled “The Men of Omaha Beach” on Thursday, March 31 at 6:30 p.m.
Mueller is the author of Fields of War: Fifty Key Battleffields in France and Belgium and Fields of War: Battle of Normandy. The books serve as visitor guides to historic sites in Europe related to World War I and World War II.
“I was in military service during the Vietnam era an interest in visiting historic places, especially concerning military history,” Mueller said.
“After my wife and I retired, we had too much time on our hands. We combined my wife’s love of travel and my love of military history and walked the battle fields of northeastern Europe. The two visitor guides are the result of my research; they tell you where to go and how to find what you’re looking for.”
Mueller delivered an interactive PowerPoint presentation about the Normandy Landings on Omaha Beach, also known as D-Day. His presentation included pictures of key figures and places involved with the military operation as well as detailed maps that showed the location of Allied and Axis forces.
“I start with presenting the opening phase of the Allied Army’s invasion of Northern France and continue to talk about the entire Battle of Normandy,” Mueller said. “Every once in a while, I do get somebody from the Second World War in my audience, which is a real treat. It is important to keep their history alive.”
Mueller’s work has won him 11 national book awards. He spoke for an hour and answered questions from the small but intimate crowd after his presentation.
Library 2“I tell the stories of what I like to call ordinary men from ordinary backgrounds who did extraordinary things,” Mueller said. “Their actions made a difference and brought success to the D-Day invasion. I’ve chosen to tell the story from the perspective of the men who made it happen. These people are mostly unknown unless you are a historian.”
Joseph T. Dawson, Raymond F. Strojny, John M. Spalding and Jimmie W. Monteith were just some of the United States soldiers whose bravery Mueller highlighted.
“D-Day was one of the most risky large scale military maneuvers and amphibian invasions in history,” Mueller said.
“Many soldiers spent five hours in boats bailing water out with their helmets. Americans struggled into the heavy surf. It should’ve been a bloody failure and it almost was. Between the barbed wire and the mortars, jumping onto that beach was like jumping into Hell.”
The Friends of the Ida Public Library will present their Spring Encore Book Sale April 27 through April 29.
Proceeds benefit the Ida Public Library. Most books are priced at 50 cents or $1. The library also appreciates the donation of books, puzzles, DVDs and CDs.

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