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Family remembers Utah veteran killed during D-Day campaign both here and abroad

Legrand Mangus's grave in Bountiful features sand and shells from his family's recent trip to Normandy. It lists Wyoming because that's where he enlisted. Photo: Kelli Pierce

BOUNTIFUL — A Utah family is remembering their loved one who died a day after D-Day after parachuting into Normandy.

Legrand Mangus was just 21-years-old when he was shot in the stomach while parachuting into northern France as part of the 508th Parachute Infantry Regiment on June 6, 1944. He was taken to medics stationed on Utah Beach, where he died the next day.

He left behind a wife, who he’d married just six months before, his parents, and siblings.

His body was returned to Utah in 1948, and he was buried at Bountiful City Cemetery.

Bev Soter, who was born several years after Mangus passed away, had heard stories about her second cousin growing up.

“Family and country were number one for him,” Soter said.

Soter and another cousin, Joel Murphy, and their families, decided to retrace Mangus’s steps for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Soter believes it connected them to their long lost relative and gave them a chance to thank him for his service.

“For us to have a relative at such a young age that was brave enough and willing enough to go put his life on the line for his country was just something that my soul won’t let me just let it be a memory,” Soter said.

Murphy says the 508th landed more inland than their counterparts in the amphibious invasion, but they missed many of their targets, most likely because of the weather and heavy fire from the Germans.

But that may have helped the Allies, as the family learned from their guides.

“Had they not take[n] some of that flack away from some of the other paratroopers that were landing in other areas to protect bridges and major landmarks, then the result might have been different,” Murphy says.

The family will hold a small ceremony at Mangus’s grave tomorrow, the 75th anniversary of his death. The VFW will present the colors and play taps.

On his headstone will be shells and sand from the beaches of Normandy, a reminder the family took from their trip and also of the campaign that took his life.

Murphy is grateful the French still remember the sacrifices of soldiers like Legrand Mangus.

“In all those villages that we drove through and stopped to look at the various monuments, a lot of them to the 508th particularly, to me that means they will never forget,” Murphy says.