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


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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


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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.


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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

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