As he prepared to take part 75 years ago in the Allied D-Day invasion of occupied France, Army paratrooper Sherman Oyler Jr. found himself face to face with Allied Commander Dwight D. Eisenhower.
Eisenhower, a native of Kansas, was addressing participants hours before the invasion when he asked to see soldiers from Kansas.
Oyler came over to talk to Eisenhower, who asked his name, Oyler's daughter, Margaret Rose Martin, wrote in a post published Wednesday on the Topeka History Geeks Facebook page.
"Dad was tongue-tied because Eisenhower was his hero," Martin wrote.
Still, with encouragement from his fellow soldiers, Oyler managed to give his name. Eisenhower replied, "Go get 'em, Kansas."
This week's "History Guy" video at CJOnline.com focuses on Oyler, who was born in 1920 and grew up in Wellington in south-central Kansas. During World War II, he served in the Army as a paratrooper.
Oyler survived the war and earned numerous medals. After returning home, he was joined in 1947 by Joyce, an English woman with whom he had fallen in love while stationed in England. They were married that year.
Oyler subsequently earned a college degree and taught history at schools that included Onaga Rural High School and Topeka's Highland Park High School, Highland Park Junior High and Jardine Junior High. His students remember him as being a teacher who really brought history to life.
For years, Oyler annually gave students a show by putting on his Army jump gear and climbing atop his desk to demonstrate proper parachuting techniques.
"He would jump off his desk saying that was the kind of landing you would feel from a parachute landing," Daniel Poirier wrote in a post published this week on the History Geeks Facebook site.
Poirier wrote that Oyler talked about how he and his fellow soldiers used clickers to communicate when they couldn't be sure of someone's identity.
"If they heard something you would give one click and wait for two clicks in return," he said. "Then you would know if it was another G.I. or not."
Oyler's legacy has grown to "mythical levels," his friend, Allan Henderson, wrote in a post published this week on the History Geeks site. He encouraged others to be careful about telling Oyler's story accurately.
Oyler retired from teaching in 1983. He returned with his wife later that year to Normandy Beach, where he visited sites that included the grave of his brother, Lyle Oyler, who was killed in action in July 1944 at St. Lo, France.
Sherman Oyler died at age 78 in 1999. He and his wife are buried at Mount Hope Cemetery.