Born in South Dakota, Julius and Ludwig Pieper spent the formative first half of their lives in the state before moving to Nebraska. They joined the US Navy and served offshore on LST-523 right after the D-Day Invasion at Normandy. On June 19, 1944, their ship went down, killing the 19-year-old twin brothers and 200 other sailors of the 300th Combat Engineers. Ludwig’s body (photo right) was recovered and buried at Normandy but Julius remained unidentified until his body was found in an “unknown” military grave in Belgium. Now the brothers are lie together in the same Normandy cemetery, according to an Omaha newspaper article today that was forwarded to the Black Hills Veterans Writing Group from Barry, Wales, by a historian there. Glenn Booker has chronicled the experiences of military like Rapid City Coastguardsman Gordon Lease who had put into Barry for repairs after also serving offshore at Normandy.
Brothers have been important to other WW2 veterans from the Black Hills Veterans Writing Group, like Marines Guadalcanal veteran Dallas Blomquist who saw the Sullivan brothers ship go down, and Iwo Jima veteran Loyd Brandt. Six of Brandt’s seven brothers served in the Marines during the Pacific war. One Herbert, was killed at Saipan. Loyd’s twin brother Lester was severely wounded on Okinawa. Loyd was in on the invasions of both Saipan and Okinawa as well.