Delma Asa Bishop

Seventy years ago my uncle, Delma Asa Bishop still a teenager, was cut down by the Germans as he charged with rifle and bayonet in hand. He had felt the call of duty and volunteered to serve and fight in the U.S. Army. He was part of the 175th Regiment who landed at Omaha Beach on 7 June 1944. Six days later he, along with many comrade-in-arms, paid the greatest cost of freedom.

As I sit and write there is a Crosby, Stills & Nash song playing over and over again in my head:

Daylight again, following me to bed
I think about [seven decades] ago, how my fathers bled
I think I see a valley, covered with bones in [green]
All the brave soldiers that cannot get older been askin’ after you
Hear the past a callin’, from Armegeddon’s side
When everyone’s talkin’ and noone is listenin’, how can we decide?

Do we find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground?
Mother earth will swallow you, lay your body down
Find the cost of freedom, buried in the ground

What a price to pay! Delma Asa, or Bill as he was known, never made it to “adulthood.” He never married. He never had children. He never got the opportunity to learn a trade. He was not even old enough to vote. His dad lost help on the farm and his mother lost a chunk of her heart. Americans today enjoy certain freedoms without scarcely considering the high price tag.

Bill had joined the Army in the Summer of 1943. It was said that he was of the “highest patriotism and the outstanding quality of his life was his strict attention to duty.1 He took his basic training at Camp Fannin in Texas and had the opportunity to visit his parents in Durant, Mississippi before shipping out in December. He was assigned to the 175th Regiment under the 29th Army Division, and immediately sent to Cornwall, England. There his regiment received invasion training. Pvt. Bishop participated in the amphibious assault training at Slapton Sands, Devon. Slapton Sands was the location of the ill-fated Operation Tiger exercise which resulted in the death of over 600 American sailors and soldiers.

Omaha Beach Normandy

Omaha BeachOn 4 June 1944, the regiment boarded the LSTs which would carry them to the coast of Normandy in France. Following a 24 hour delay, the 115th and 116th Infantry assaulted the beaches on 6 June. The 175th, the 29th Division’s reserve, landed on the still unsecured Omaha Beach on the morning of 7 June, and proceeded to its objective to seize the village of Isigny. It pushed through Isigny and crossed the Vire River and on to St Lo. It was in a skirmish between Isigny and St. Lo that Pvt. Bishop was killed.

NOTE: I have a lot of details about the skirmishes the 175th encountered that fateful day. I need to discover the company my uncle was in before I can give a final account of how he fell that day. My cousin, Mike Bishop, and I are determined to find out as much as possible. We have made an application to the War Records Department in St. Louis. Hopefully, I will be able, at some point, to return to this story and fill in more details. In the meantime, we will go with what we know to be fact. One of the facts is this:

The same day the U.S. Army saved Pvt. Ryan, it lost Pvt. Bishop…

It was reported (unofficially, non-military) that “Delma Asa Bishop died from rifle wounds received while engaged in an attack against the enemy with his rifle and bayonet, and during the heat of battle, standing his ground without retreat, in the face of heavy enemy counter-attack.” 1 He not only died with his boots on, but with rifle and bayonet in hand. I see two images in my head. The first is the modern male homo sapien who panics, turns and “hauls ass” at the sign of any danger. The second I see is my brave uncle, who in imminent danger, charges on into the line of fire. Its not hard to imagine what goes on in the mind of a truly brave man as he charges against a heavy line of fire. He knows he is about to die. Rather than turning and running away, he makes the nanosecond decision to die like a man. Before my son, P├Ątrick, went off to Marine boot camp in September I had several long talks with him. One of the things I said was “I hope you never have to test your Marine training in real battle – but if you do and you face real danger, I do not want to read that you were shot in the back. If it is ever your fate to die on the field of battle, then die like a man.” May my uncle be a shining example to my Marine son!

Newspaper Account

Delma Asa Bishop KIA Newspaper Clipping

1 See Typed Document Below