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 three of the series focusing on stories of local veterans and beyond.
TALLAHASSEE, FL (WTXL) - 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.
"We were not only fighting for America. We were fighting for the rest of the world, because the rest of the world was subject to being conquered by Hitler and the Japanese emperor," explains retired Major John Haynes of the U.S. Marine Corps.
Many lost their lives on D-Day and in the war, while others witnessed the destruction, "They tried to bomb as much as they could," says Captain Harry Boswell a retired U.S. Air Force, "on some of the landing areas at Normandy on D-Day but the weather was so bad, they couldn't fly and they had to do a lot of that invasion without the benefit of the Air Force."
Leon "Bud" Ledson, a retired U.S. Marine Corps Corporal, says during the war he slept in a foxhole full of water and it may have been what saved his life, "...three of my buddies were laying in the grass up above me and they said, 'Corporal, you're crazy for sleeping in the foxhole full of water like that', but all three of 'em got killed, got a bullet."
Harry Boswell's cousin Charlie Boswell took part in the D-Day invasion, "He was a tank commander, got a hit and blinded him, but he survived."
Others on the other side of the world were not even aware of the invasion until after it had happened. John "Jack" Glasgow, an Electrician 3rd Class retired with the U.S. Navy explains, "When you are in the Southeast Ocean, the only thing you heard about was, what was going on around you. We didn't know about Europe. That was second hand to us down there. Of course, we heard about it, finally, that that part of the war was over, but ours wasn't. So we still had problems and things to worry about."
D-Day was a pivotal moment in the war. Once the allied forces advanced onto the beach, others were given the command to mount their attack.
Ledson says, "Eleanor Roosevelt was across the table from me. She said, 'You Marines have done a real good job here with the German submarines', said, 'Now go see what you can do to the Japanese'."
The biggest success is that D-Day worked; many contribute that to the massive effort of cooperation.
"It was just an astounding effort, that perhaps, the world has never seen, past or since," reflects Haynes.
The premier of the 3-D Film "D-DAY: Normandy 1944" is Friday. For showtimes visit the Challenger Learning Center.
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.
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.
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: 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.
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.