Twin brothers reunited 74 years after WWII death at Normandy

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Family members lay flowers on the casket of WWII US Navy sailor Julius Pieper during a reburial service at the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP)
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A US Navy sailor performs a handover ceremony of the flag from WWII US Navy sailor Julius Pieper to family member Linda Suitor during a reburial service at the Normandy American Cemetery, Colleville-sur-Mer, France, Tuesday, June 19, 2018. (AP)
Updated 19 June 2018
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Twin brothers reunited 74 years after WWII death at Normandy

  • The story of how the twins died and were being reunited reflects the daily courage of troops on a mission to save the world from the Nazis and the tenacity of today’s military to ensure that no soldier goes unaccounted for
  • "They are finally together again, side by side, where they should be,”

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France: For decades, he was known only as Unknown X-9352 at a World War II American cemetery in Belgium where he was interred.
Today, he has recovered his identity — and was being reunited with his twin brother in Normandy, where the two Navy men died together when their ship shattered on an underwater mine while trying to reach the blood-soaked D-Day beaches.
Julius Heinrich Otto “Henry” Pieper and Ludwig Julius Wilhelm “Louie” Pieper, two 19-year-olds from Esmond, South Dakota, will rest in peace side-by-side later Tuesday at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in France, 74 years after their deaths on June 19, 1944.
While Louie’s body was soon found, identified and laid to rest, his brother’s remains were only recovered in 1961 by French salvage divers and not identified until 2017.
They will be the 45th pair of brothers at the cemetery, three of them memorialized on the Walls of the Missing at the cemetery. But the Piepers will be the only set of twins among the more than 9,380 graves, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission.
Julius, radioman second class like his brother, was being buried with full military honors at the cemetery, an immaculate field of crosses and stars of David. The site overlooks the English Channel and Omaha Beach, the bloodiest of the Normandy landing beaches of Operation Overlord, the first step in breaching Hitler’s stranglehold on France and Europe. Family members were in attendance.

Twin brothers Julius Pieper, left, and Ludwig Pieper in their US Navy uniforms.
Twin brothers Julius Pieper, left, and Ludwig Pieper in their US Navy uniforms. (AP)

“They are finally together again, side by side, where they should be,” said their niece, Susan Lawrence, 56, of California.
“They were always together. They were the best of friends,” said Lawrence. “Mom told me a story one time when one of the twins had gotten hurt on the job and the other twin had gotten hurt on the job, same day and almost the same time.”
The story of how the twins died and were being reunited reflects the daily courage of troops on a mission to save the world from the Nazis and the tenacity of today’s military to ensure that no soldier goes unaccounted for.
The Pieper twins, born of German immigrant parents, worked together for Burlington Railroad and enlisted together in the Navy. Both were radio operators and both were on the same unwieldy flat-bottom boat, Landing Ship Tank Number 523 (LST-523), making the Channel crossing from Falmouth, England, to Utah Beach 13 days after the June 6 D-Day landings.
The LST-523 mission was to deliver supplies at the Normandy beachhead and remove the wounded. It never got there.
The vessel struck an underwater mine and sank off the coast. Of the 145 Navy crew members, 117 were found perished. Survivors’ accounts speak of a major storm on the Channel with pitched waves that tossed the boat mercilessly before the explosion that shattered the vessel.
Louie’s body was laid to rest in what now is the Normandy American Cemetery. But the remains of Julius were only recovered in 1961 by French divers who found them in the vessel’s radio room. He was interred as an “Unknown” at the Ardennes American Cemetery in Neuville, Belgium, also devoted to the fallen of World War II, in the region that saw the bloody Battle of the Bulge.
Julius’ remains might have stayed among those of 13 other troops from the doomed LST-523 still resting unidentified at the Ardennes cemetery. But in 2017, a US agency that tracks missing combatants using witness accounts and DNA testing identified him.
The Pieper family asked that Louie’s grave in Normandy be relocated to make room for his twin brother at his side.
The last time the United States buried a soldier who fought in World War II was in 2005, at the Ardennes American Cemetery, according to the American Battle Monuments Commission.


‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ blurs the line between good and bad

A still from the kid-friendly film. (Sony Pictures Animation)
Updated 23 July 2018
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‘Hotel Transylvania 3’ blurs the line between good and bad

  • The characters are sharply etched out, with pointed features and wonderful detail

CHENNAI: Nothing can be compared to Japanese animation, especially the works of cinematic art created by Hayao Miyazaki (“Spirited Away,” “Princess Mononoke,” “The Wind Rises”), which is not just sharply political but also intensely emotional. In comparison, American animated films may seem somewhat plastic, though the Hotel Transylvania franchise has risen above the mundane. The latest installment,” Hotel Transylvania 3: A Monster Vacation,” from director Genndy Tartakovsky, depicts a battle between good and evil.
The plot sees Dracula (voiced by Adam Sandler), his daughter Mavis (Selena Gomez), her human husband Johnny (Andy Samberg) and the entire monster entourage go on a cruise vacation to Atlantis. On board, widowed and lonely Dracula falls head over heels in love with the director of the event, Ericka (Kathryn Hahn). However — plot twist! — she is a human being and several centuries younger. Even worse, she is the granddaughter of the legendary vampire hunter Abraham Van Helsing (Jim Gaffigan), whose bitter enmity with Dracula dates back to the 1800s. It is liberally interspersed with humor, which comes courtesy of the Mummy, the Invisible Man and the giant puppy that Dracula's grandson smuggles aboard the ship.
Tartakovsky, who helmed all three editions of the franchise, undoubtedly employed a brilliant set of animators — the characters are sharply etched out, with pointed features and wonderful detail. The wit flows at a breathless pace, but what is lacking is a certain novelty, which one expects in an ongoing series.
One plus point is that parents will not find themselves wanting for entertainment. Dracula's romance with Ericka may be lost on children, but it will keep the adults entertained. At 97 minutes long, however, the film could have been far more fantastic.