An Iowa Veteran's Account of the Landing at Omaha Beach: D-Day

On June 6th, 1944, Allied troops invaded Normandy, France in what would become known as D-Day. That day, over 150,000 troops stormed the coastline in a matter of 24 hours and set the world on a path to ending World War II and the reign of Nazi Germany. Technician Fourth Grade Verle Buck, a 21-year old from Jubilee, had been drafted in January of 1943 and was now a part of the 149th Combat Engineer Battalion. On June 6, 1944, a day that became known as D-Day, Buck was in one of three lines of specially designed boats called landing craft tanks or LCTs.

Transcript

After two years and six months of fighting by U.S. forces, allied commanders gave the order to begin the invasion of Europe. Officially called operation overlord, troops were to storm the beaches of Normandy, France, on what would become known as D-Day, June 6, 1944. Technician Fourth Grade Verle Buck, a 21-year-old from Jubilee, had been drafted in January of 1943 and was now a part of the 149th combat engineer battalion. As the assault began, buck was in one of three lines of specially designed boats called landing craft tanks, or LCTs. The lines of LCTs stretched beyond the horizon back towards England. Their destination was Omaha Beach, one of five landing areas on the coast of Normandy. Buck was in the first wave of soldiers to hit the beach. When the front ramp of the landing craft went down, buck and the other soldiers raced ashore. 

“They had us pinned down. We couldn't get out of there. You'd stick your helmet above; they'd shoot a hole through it. It was hectic. It wasn't orderly. It was too many of the leaders got shot up, killed, wounded. And everybody -- then after a while, then everybody got organized a little bit amongst themselves and knew they had to go because there was no way you could swim that English Channel. You had to go.”  Finally, a group of German soldiers blocking their advance were killed by gunfire from a ship in the channel, and the men were able to move forward. Omaha Beach saw the heaviest fighting of all the landing zones. An estimated 34,000 men landed on Omaha Beach that morning. At the end of the battle, 2,000 were listed as either killed, wounded, or missing in action.


Excerpt from "Iowa's WWII Stories," Iowa Public Television, 2006