Editor’s Note: In recognition of Veterans Day, Diakon held events at senior living communities honoring the dedication and service of residents who served in the military. The following post is a compilation of comments made by one of the residents interviewed at the events. A link to additional stories is listed at the conclusion of this post.
“As far as we could see, there were American and English ships and boats, then planes going back and forth bombing the French Coast,” Richard Schermerhorn recalls of his time on the English Channel June 6, 1944.
“As we got closer, naval ships started opening up the big guns.”
Welcome to D-Day, when the Allied invasion of Normandy at Omaha Beach turned the tide in World War II with Operation Overlord, the largest seaborne invasion in history. The day became the springboard for the liberation of German-occupied France and set the bedrock for the Allied victory on the Western Front.
“As we got closer, the water was over my chin,” says Richard, 97, and a current resident of Luther Crest, a Diakon senior living community in Allentown, Pennsylvania. Richard remembers seeing the bodies of many troops on the beach as he and another soldier operated a mine detector, one of them sweeping and one of them probing. Later, as they worked by a road, they saw a one-star general approaching.
The officer was Gen. Theodore Roosevelt Jr., son of the former president of the same name.
“‘Are you finding many mines, boys?’ he asked. At the time, we had not. He was like on a picnic and this was the biggest invasion we’d ever gotten into!”
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