Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
D-Day theory: Utah Beach named for Provo carpenter
Invasion » A veteran’s son still seeks confirmation of his father’s story.

< Previous Page

Gayle Eyler wrote that he and Sam were tasked with turning a London apartment building into a secret U.S. Army headquarters for the invasion of Normandy.

Gayle Eyler’s account says that he and Sam would have coffee and doughnuts with Bradley. One morning, Gen. Dwight Eisenhower was there with Bradley. The two generals were discussing landing areas on the French coast and what to name them.

Utah Beach

View Larger Map

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Gayle Eyler wrote: "Bradley suggested the first two. Omaha and Utah for our hard work getting the place ready in a hurry. I and ‘Sam’ put in a lot of hours & hard work."

Gayle Eyler underlined the words "Omaha" and "Utah."

The writings do not elaborate on the moment.

• Confirmation elusive

And there wasn’t much description of Sam.

Gayle Eyler couldn’t remember his last name. He wrote Sam’s name in quotation marks, raising the question of whether he was even sure about that.

All he could recall was that Sam was a buck sergeant — Army slang for the lowest rank of sergeant ­— that he was from Provo, of Italian descent and his family raised cherries. Gayle Eyler also implies Sam had a brother-in-law named Maj. Masso working at the headquarters.

The account from Gayle Eyler and his sons was first published in 2008 in the Omaha World-Herald, which made efforts to verify the story.

story continues below
story continues below

Gayle Eyler’s service record confirms he did serve on Bradley’s staff, the newspaper said. Interviews corroborated his description of Bradley’s London headquarters. The World-Herald also found an Army record indicating the code names originated in those headquarters.

But the newspaper could find no trace of Sam. The World-Herald searched Army records and spoke to historians in the Army and in Utah, but no account of him was located.

The World-Herald also contacted Conrad Crane, a historian at the U.S. Army Heritage and Education Center, for its 2008 story. Crane said then, and again in an interview Friday, that despite the lack of proof, he finds the Eyler story plausible.

"People often think these code names come from very sophisticated processes," Crane said, "and often they don’t."

• Ships, dogs

There is no record of Bradley, or the man in charge of D-Day, Eisenhower, ever explaining the code names’ origins. There are some other theories.

Naval Task Force O delivered troops and supplies, and fired artillery at the Germans on Omaha Beach. Task Force U did the same at Utah Beach. It’s possible the names were given to correspond with the naval forces’ alphabetic designations.

While in London, Bradley acquired two fox terriers he named Omaha and Utah. Gayle Eyler mentioned the dogs in his writing.

An Associated Press photo, which began to appear in newspapers as early as Aug. 22, 1944, shows the dogs seated beside Bradley’s helmet. The caption refers to them as puppies, but does not specify the date of the photograph.

Crane said the dogs were named for the beaches, and not the other way around.

• Sam is key

Next Page >

Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment

About Reader Comments

Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.