The 71st anniversary of the World War II D-Day Invasion is Saturday and WTXL is taking a look at the invasion and documenting stories of Americans who were there in D-DAY: The Great Crusade. This is part one of the series focusing on the launch of the invasion.
TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) - The invasion had been planned since the beginning of the United States entering the war, according to Kurt Piehler, the Director of the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience.
Piehler explains that the Soviets, "...were desperate to have a second front, particularly in 1942 when it still looked like the Nazi's could win the war." And the U.S. invasion couldn't have come a moment too soon.
Normandy was the largest invasion ever to have troops enter from the sea. The German casualties on D-Day were around 1,000 men. The Allied casualties were close to 10,000, with 4,414 confirmed dead.
When asked if he was frightened while serving on D-Day, Sgt. Robert Bareford, a retired U.S. Air Force service member, said, "...no I wasn't frightened, I was scared to death, that's what I was. I didn't think I'd live and it was very intense."
Piehler says if the invasion hadn't taken place on June 6, 1944, it may have been a different invasion under a different president, "[Eisenhower] had already written his resignation statement."
No matter who lead the invasion though, it didn't change the fact that those serving were ready to go home as soon as it began.
John "Jack" Glasgow, a retired electrician with the U.S. Navy, "Well, the first thing we could think about was, it can't be long now. I mean, you know, for us. And of course, that's when we all thought amongst ourselves that we can, maybe we can go home before long. And we did! It wasn't too long afterwards we finally went back home."
The premier of the 3-D Film "D-DAY: Normandy 1944" is Friday. For showtimes visit the Challenger Learning Center.
CLICK HERE FOR MORE "D-DAY: The Great Crusade"
D-Day: The Great Crusade, Part 1 - Not a Day Too Late
The invasion had been planned since the beginning of the United States entering the war, according to Kurt Piehler, the Director of the Institute on World War II and the Human Experience.
D-Day: The Great Crusade, Part 2 - Preparing for D-Day
It's no surprise troops trained long and hard for the invasion. What many may not know is, hundreds of thousands trained here on the Gulf Coast at Camp Gordon Johnston in Carrabelle.
D-Day: The Great Crusade, Part 3 - Stories from Local Veterans
The military's mission in World War II was to destroy the Axis Powers. One way to do that was by creating a second front in Europe on D-Day.
D-Day: The Great Crusade, Part 4 - Behind the Scenes Look at the Making of the Film
"D-Day: Normandy 1944" is a documentary to honor all who serve. The film's director, Pascal Vuong, says he always had a strong interest in World War II and D-Day ever since he saw the movie "The Longest Day" as a young child. Years later, he decided to create the very first large screen documentary devoted to D-Day.
D-Day: The Great Crusade, Part 5 - Letters from Those Who Were There
The letters from those who served on D-Day show more than just war and fear, they show hope of ending the war and a sense of a greater purpose.