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Experiencing War: D-Day 65th Anniversary, June 6, 1944-2009 (Stories from the Veterans History Project)

Wading or swimming ashore on June 6, 1944, were some of World War II's bravest soldiers. Whether demolition experts, rangers trained to scale the cliffs of Normandy, bulldozer operators ready to create a new network on roads, or just infantrymen primed to establish positions, these men all shared a strong sense of determination to take the fight to the enemy and take France back from the Germans.

Featured Story: Joseph Peter Vaghi
Image of Joseph Vaghi

“The Sergeant said,‘Follow me.’ He did not order his men forward, but actually went in front himself, which is the sign of a leader.”

In any large wartime invasion—and none was bigger during WWII than D-Day—there has to be a set of logistical experts who can maneuver the men and materiel and keep the lines of communication open. That was Joe Vaghi’s job on Normandy on June 6; he was a Navy Beachmaster. Vaghi went on to perform the same duties in the Pacific Theater, but none of those beaches presented the same kind of challenges as he encountered on the sands of Northern France.

Go to Joseph Vaghi's StoryGo and experience
Joseph Peter Vaghi's story
Experience more Stories of D-Day 65th: On the Beach more stories

"What I thought were piles of cordwood I later learned were the bodies of 2500 men, killed by withering fire from the Nazi gun emplacements built into the cliff."
-- Tracy Sugarman

Image Jay S. Adams

" could practically walk from one ship to another to cross that bay."

Jay S. Adams' story

Image of William Jennings Arnett

"...your chances were getting slimmer all the time..."

William Jennings Arnett's story

Image of Jesse A. Beazley

"And I thought of my home, and my mom, and my dog, and my friends..."

Jesse A. Beazley's story

Image of Kenneth T. Delaney

"I traded in my walking cane for an M-1 rifle ..."

Kenneth T. Delaney's story

Image of William Valentine Loncaric

"...I was the man who carried the maps..."

William Valentine Loncaric's story

Image of Fred Millet

"I don't know how I made it."

Fred Millet's story

Image of Charles H. Neighbor

"I think it was really good therapy for me [writing about his war experience]..."

Charles H. Neighbor's story

Image of Ellison W. Parfitt

"I never could bring myself to go look if I hit them."

Ellison W. Parfitt's story

Image John Robert Slaughter

"I took my raincoat off to spread that out to clean my rifle, and my raincoat was full of bullet holes..."

John Robert Slaughter's story

Image of Claud C. Woodring

"Probably the only reason I survived is that the Germans weren't worried about that first person up ahead."

Claud C. Woodring's story

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  June 5, 2009
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