Tommy “Tucker” Meehan, believed to be the oldest Irish veteran of World War II, died on Monday, November 16, at the age of 93.
A heroic veteran of the D-day landings, he traveled into the beaches of Normandy by glider before the landings took place.
Tucker, as he was universally known, was born in Beaumont in Dublin city and served in the British Army with the Royal Ulster Rifles.
The Irishman displayed a great deal of bravery throughout his time fighting in the Second World War, completing unimaginable tasks with honor and a sense of justice.
Following his incredible entrance to the D-day landings, he was tasked with preparing the dead bodies of his comrades for burial on France’s beaches. Tucker was required to remove their dog tags, allowing for their families to be informed of their deaths.
Yet another horrifying task was awaiting him, however, as he was sent to clear out the concentration camps in the final days of the war. On releasing the inmates, Tucker’s friend Michael Claxton tells how they wished to take Tommy’s gun to have their revenge on the German prison guards "but Tommy wouldn't allow that".
Tommy continued to serve with the British Army after the War, traveling to Palestine before attempting to settle down in London once he left service.
The call of home was too strong, however, and the Dubliner returned to Beaumont.
Joining one of Ireland’s greatest institutions, he worked for 36 years with the Guinness Brewery and married his wife, May, having three children, Paul, Susan and Colette.
Thankfully, his acts of heroism were never forgotten, especially by his employers Guinness who ensured to honor the war hero in their ranks.
Each year, he was invited to a dinner organized by Guinness to remember the D-Day landings and in 1998, on the release of the epic war film “Saving Private Ryan” set during the Invasion of Normandy, Guinness brought Tommy to see the movie by limousine.
The Irish Independent report that Tommy was a lifelong supporter of the Republic of Ireland soccer team and his friends have commented that the incredible qualification of the team for the 2016 European Championship on the day of his death was a fitting tribute to the oldest of Ireland’s World War II veterans.
Tommy passed away earlier this week following a long illness and will be buried today in Beaumont, Co. Dublin.