By VIRGINIA GIORGIS
“I was so scared, scared plumb to death, and just kept thinking I got to get through this somehow.”
– Howard Woody
BRIDGER VALLEY — On today’s date 70 years ago, June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation a crusade in which “we will accept nothing less than full victory.” More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day’s end on June 6, the Allies gained a foot- hold in Normandy. The D-Day cost was high – more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded – but more than 100,000 soldiers began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler in World War II.
Mountain View resident Howard Woody was a part of the 29th Division, which was untested in battle. The 29th was joined by nine companies of Army Rangers. The division landed at the junction of Omaha and Utah Beaches The Pioneer first reported Woody’s story in 2010.
Tuesday afternoon Woody said he had spent 70 years trying to forget. He talked about the eye opener the initial landing was for a young man. Woody said he was “The scardest (sic) 18 year old (during the landing and the move up the mountain)… then something in your mind tells you – ‘you’re all right. You’re going to make it.”
Woody said his group landed between the Omaha and Utah Beaches. He said he was with a buddy, Garvis Ritchie (sp).
Jumping out of the landing crafts into ice-cold ocean water, Woody said the soldiers had to wade 200-300 feet into shore.
Interviewed by Wyoming PBS in 2007, Woody described landing on the beach as an 18-year-old. “We landed on Omaha and Utah Beach. It was actually quiet other than the wind blowing quite hard. There was no shooting on our side or on theirs. We moved up the beach a long ways before it really started and once it started, it was a constant roar,” Woody said.
For the complete article see the 06-06-2014 issue.
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