‘Father Joe’ Miele recounts royal encounter, D-Day battle

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Before he became a priest, Fr. Joseph Miele, then Electrician’s Mate [EM] Miele, served in the U.S. Navy aboard the U.S.S. Augusta, the ship that was the headquarters for the D-Day invasion. [MARK R. SULLIVAN]

BRICK TOWNSHIP — Father Joseph J. Miele is long removed from his military service in World War II, but he hasn’t forgotten his forays into the north of France. Seventy-five years ago, Fr. Miele was an instrumental part of the D-Day invasion in Normandy on June 6, 1944.

Before he became a priest, Fr. Miele, then Electrician’s Mate [EM] Miele, served in the U.S. Navy from December 1943 until May 1946 aboard the U.S.S. Augusta, the ship that was the headquarters for the invasion.

EM Miele served under Lt. Gen. Bradley as an Electrician’s Mate Third Class. His position during active duty was located down in the ship’s engine room. When engaged in combat, EM Miele’s job was to be in charge of the electrical generators, which were vital to keeping the boat afloat and moving.

“I didn’t realize until recently the importance of the job I had … I was a little disappointed that I wasn’t top side where I could see and take part in the bombardment. But, if we lost electrical power, the ship just couldn’t operate,” he said.

The U.S.S. Augusta fired 51 rounds from the main battery upon shore targets at 6:18 a.m. on D-Day. On June 10, Lt. Gen. Bradley disembarked to establish his command on land. Even though EM Miele was in the dark below the ship’s deck, he was able to relive the day vicariously through the stories of his shipmates.

“The other members of the E-Division (Electrical Division) told me about the firing and a near-miss with the Germans coming and landing a couple of shells on our ship but with no casualties. But these were the guys who were top side and could see what was going on… I was down in the engine room, maintaining electrical power so that we wouldn’t end up an easy target, immobile in the water,” Fr. Miele said.

This is an excerpt of the print article. For more on this story, read The Ocean Star—on newsstands Friday or online in our e-Edition.