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Catholic priest remembered for D-Day bravery

todayJune 6, 2024 4

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VERMILLION, S.D. (KELO) —Military heritage is a big part of the Edelen family tree.

“My dad was in 26 years. Our family is military to the core,” Joe Edelen said.

It goes all the way back to Joe’s uncle, Father Philip B. Edelen, who entered the military at the beginning of WWII as a Catholic priest.

“To do that, you have to get permission from your bishop. So, I’m sure he got that permission and entered the military,” Edelen said.

Father Philip entered Normandy shortly after June 6th, 1944. He ministered to wounded soldiers inside a Catholic church.

“On June 9th at about 11 p.m., a mortar or an artillery shell struck the church and hit almost next to him and blew his leg off,” Edelen said.

Father Philip died on June 12th from his injuries.

Remembering some of South Dakota’s World War II heroes

“Those men gave up their today’s so that we might have our tomorrows. And that’s so true,” Edelen said.

Father Philip was buried in Normandy. Edelen said his father would visit his grave several times.

“It’s interesting, sometimes the French people after WWII, they took on as their cause taking care of the grave of certain soldiers. And this countess, I don’t remember her name, but she took on my Uncle Philip’s grave and took care of it. She put flowers out, all the usual things for 20 or 30 years until she died in France,” Edelen said.

Edelen and his brothers visited her old house and said it was like a step back in time.

“I’m just so grateful to all the people, men and women like my uncle who gave their lives so that we could have freedom,” Edelen said.

Edelen’s family has taken several trips to Normandy to pay their respect to Father Philip over the years.

Written by: Badlands Classic Rock

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