Private John Marvin Steele,
born 29-11-1912 in Metropolis, Illinois and died 16-05-1969, age 56 in Fayetteville, NC, was the American paratrooper who landed on the church tower in Sainte-Mère-Église, the first village in Normandy liberated by the Americans on D-Day, June 6, 1944. During “Operation Market Garden” in September 1944, Vandevoort led the assault on the
Waal Bridge at Nijmegen while the 3rd Battalion, 504th PIR, made the assault crossing. General Matthew Bunker Ridgeway
described Vandervoort as “one of the bravest and toughest battle commanders I ever knew”. At Goronne he was wounded by mortar fire, so was unable to take part in the divisions’ advance into Germany. He was promoted to colonel on 07-07-1946, and retired from the army on 31 August. After studying at Ohio State University he joined the Foreign Service in 1947. Benjamin Vandervoort died on the 22-11-1990 at the age of 73 years at a nursing home from the effects of a fall. He had two children with his wife Nedra; a son and a daughter. In the early 1990s, the United States Army Center for Leadership at Fort Leavenworth, Kansas, selected one or two colonels or lieutenant colonels from every American War from the Revolution through Vietnam. Colonel Vandervoort was selected as the outstanding ground battle commander for World War II. He is honored by a brief biography and several photographs in what is known as “Leadership Hallway” located on the second floor of Bell Hall. Vandervoort was portrayed by actor John Wayne
in the film version of Cornelius Ryan’s history of D-Day, The Longest Day. John Wayne died age 72, of stomach cancer, on 11-06-1979 in Los Angeles. At the time of filming in 1962, Wayne, at 55 was 28 years older than Vandervoort had been on D-Day
Death and burial ground of Vandervoort, Benjamin Hayes “Vandy”.
Vandervoort being a decade younger than Wayne. Benjamin Vandervoort died on the 22-11-1990 at the age of 73 years at a nursing home from the effects of a fall and is buried on Beaufort National Cemetery, Beaufort, South Carolina, Section 20, grave 59.