“I wasn’t afraid of the D-Day Invasion – but I didn’t think I’d come out alive.”

“I wasn’t afraid of the D-Day Invasion, but I didn’t think I’d come out alive.”

William Garfield Dabney was one of many African American soldiers who participated in the landing in the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, France, but his story was hidden for years. He explained that, for years, he didn’t talk about his experiences because nobody would believe him, so he just stopped talking about it…

Forest Jones

On Thursday, February 9 at 7pm, author and historian Forest Jones will share Mr. Dabney’s story as part of the Salem Museum’s Speaker Series. The program will be presented on Zoom only. The Zoom link will be available on the Museum’s web site,, on the morning of the talk.

William Dabney was an African American WWII veteran who lived in the Roanoke Valley. He had been part of the 320th Barrage Balloon Battalion, the only all-black unit in the D-Day landings. Sixty-five years after the D-Day Invasion of Normandy, he was awarded the French Legion of Honor for his heroics on D-Day.

This talk is based on Jones’ award-winning essay, “William G. Dabney: I wasn’t afraid of the D-Day Invasion, but I didn’t think I’d come out alive.” Out of over 2,800 submissions, Writers’ Digest, the top writing magazine in the nation, awarded Jones an honorable mention for his nonfiction essay about Mr. Dabney in its 2022 Annual Writing Competition. Jones and his brother Anton had interviewed the then-94-year-old Dabney shortly before his death in 2018.

Forest Issac Jones taught history and world geography for 10 years and was a school principal for 12 years. He currently is the Director of Administrative Services for Salem City Schools. He was a finalist for the 2018 Bloody Scotland Pitch Perfect International Crime Writing Festival Contest. Set in Belfast, Northern Ireland, his short story ‘Whatever You Say, Say Nothing’ was shortlisted for the 2019 Fish Short Story Contest. He is represented by book agent, Terrie Wolf from AKA Literary Management and is currently working on his first adult thriller.

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