World War II Veteran: Verle Buck
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 be 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.
(Verle Buck) 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 that was 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.
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