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Shepler - The Battle For Fox Green Beach

After spending nearly eighteen years in the criminal justice world,  Joel Johnson changed careers.  He has been a financial advisor for nearly thirty years in Aiken County, South Carolina. When he is not busy helping his clients plan their present and financial future, he can usually be found in his library studying and researching World War II history and his collection of all Official State Highway Maps, and specifically, South Carolina.  His interest in World War II began before he was five when he received his first Marx Army set for Christmas, and has grown to an extensive collection of WWII weapons, WWII memorabilia, WWII research and reference books, and of course, maps.  He has now added to his collection with the addition of all the LIFE magazines from the start of WWII to the end of 1945.

Over the years, Joel focused his research and study to the European Theater of Operations of WWII, specifically D-Day and the invasion of Europe though Normandy.  Joel and his wife Ute, who is from Germany, have traveled extensively in Europe to WWII sites and museums. Ute, started out reluctantly at first, but now has become an avid follower/navigator of his quests. He has explored and conducted research in England, France, Belgium, Germany, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Iceland and Northern Africa.  Now Joel has expanded his WWII research into the Pacific Theater with travels to Peleliu, Palau, Guam, Saipan, Tinian and Iwo Jima, Japan, Guadalcanal, Solomon Islands, Tarawa, Kiribati and Okinawa.  With more yet to come.

Joel made it his mission to visit all the United States World War II cemeteries in Europe to pay his respects and honor those who gave all during the European Theater of Operation.

As the 70th Anniversary of D-Day approached, Joel made plans to once again visit Normandy.  At this time his research led him to Omaha Beach at 6:30 AM and placed him 1,000 feet out in the English Channel as the tide rose in front of the Vierville draw. He was able to make a video and replicate almost exactly the timing of the actual conditions (tide, sunrise and lighting) that occurred on June 6, 1944 and show what the soldiers of the 29th Infantry Division, 116th Infantry saw as they approached and landed in the first wave. 

Joel made a second video during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day from the Colleville Draw, D-3, where the 1st Infantry Division landed.  This video is almost an exact duplication of the sunrise, low and rising tide, and the full moon that occurred on June 6, 1944 at 6:30 AM.  He started this video about 1300 feet out in the English Channel with the sea nearly chest high and proceeded to the shingle in front of him.

This is what June 6, 1944 looked like to the landing US Army troops on the Colleville Draw.  The sunrise was at 6:01 AM (0601 hrs.), low tide and start of the rising tide at 5:19 AM (0519 hrs.), and the Full Moon.

Although the purpose of being in Normandy during the 70th Anniversary of D-Day was to capture and film the actual conditions of what occurred on Omaha Beach, Joel gathered sand from each of the five invasion beaches.  While flying home, he came up with the idea of putting this sand onto a map. Putting his interest in maps and D-Day together led Joel to create the plaque of the Final Overlord Plan with the actual sand from the invasion landing beaches. It is meant to honor all those that lived, and died, on D-Day. It represents a part of history to have and to hold, forever.

The design of the plaque took many, many months until the final version was ready and launched. Several years later a retired Canadian soldier/historian corrected me to the proper WWII era Canadian flag, which was implemented.

With the interest shown in the Final Overland Plan Map, Joel created a map with sand from all the US Army Invasion Beaches in the European Theater of Operation.  This plaque honors all the WWII US Army Combat Divisions in the European Theater of Operation. 

A portion of the proceeds of the two United States Army plaques is being donated to a National US Army WWII Foundation.

Joel then created the Iwo Jima Final Landing Plan Map which has sand* from all the landing beaches and from the top of Mt. Suribachi. 

Joel’s fourth, and final plaque Sand from the United States Marine Corps Landing Beaches in the Pacific Theater of Operation is on the verge availability. A unique option available for this plaque to be able to personalize the plaque to follow your relative, neighbor, or loved one’s island hopping by specific beach sand.

A portion of the proceeds for the two United States Marine Corps plaques will be donated to a USMC WWII Foundation.

Joel is proud to be one of the rare ones to have been born in North Dakota.  He has visited all fifty states, four of five territories, nearly one hundred countries and all seven continents.  All of these missions have started from Warrenville, South Carolina where Joel and Ute live. Joel has been an Honorary South Carolinian since 1984.

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Day of Days Productions ® | PO Box 645, Warrenville, SC 29851-0645​ | (803) 663-7854

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