Veterans Remember D-Day 60 Years Later - WTOC-TV: Savannah, Beaufort, SC, News, Weather & Sports

06/03/04

Veterans Remember D-Day 60 Years Later

Sixty years ago this weekend, Allied troops launched one of the boldest offensives of World War II. They invaded Normandy to reclaim France and defeat the Germans. WTOC spent some time talking with two D-Day veterans. They say being a part of such a landmark battle changed their lives forever.

President Roosevelt's prayer of, "Almighty God, our sons, pride of our nation, have set upon a mighty endeavor," still rings true 60 years later. That endeavor was one of the most crucial events of the 20th century. Operation Overlord, presently known to most Americans as D-Day, was the massive Allied invasion of occupied France. More than 150,000 troops attacked five strategic points.

Veterans credit the Mighty Eighth Air Force with bombing the Germans to vulnerability and neutralizing the Luftwaffe against attack. The Mighty Eighth only lost one crew in the attack.

Sgt. William Brannen of Sylvania landed at Omaha Beach. He was the third man down the gangplank of his landing craft. "I jumped and landed in water waist deep, and there was a dead GI right by me," he recalled. "I almost jumped on him and I've remembered that for 60 years."

The invasion was the beginning of the end of the war. But the victory didn't come free. Towns large and small across America lost many sons. From Sylvania alone, three soldiers died that day.

The scene was much the same when Lt. Bill Baker arrived among the replacement infantry. "Parachutes hanging out of the trees, littering the ground. They were in ponds and they were in fields," he told us.

The assault started a series of brutal ground battles that led to the March on Berlin. "It was just a matter of time until we were successful," Baker said.

Monday at 8:30pm, join WTOC's Doug Weathers in a special half hour originally produced for the 50th anniversary of D-Day. The Allied Invasion of Europe as seen through the eyes of people from right here who were part of that defining moment in American history.

Reported by: Dal Cannady, dcannady@wtoc.com

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