Local News

D-Day Veterans Meet to Relive Memories

Posted June 7, 1999

— U.S. Armed Forces took part in the Battle at Normandy 55 years ago. Many died, and some survived.

This week, several veterans who fought together in France have been reliving memories and telling new stories.

D-Day, the beginning of the largest air, land and sea invasion in history, took place on June 6, 1944. But it was actually two days later that sticks out in the minds of some retired sailors.

"I think had we not been sunk, I don't think any of us would remember who was who and where," said veteran Frank Doody.

But they did sink, and that terrifying experience more than a half-century ago is still fresh in their minds.

"I just started to pray, and I think prayer saved a lot of us where we were able to be rescued," explained Doody.

EighteenNavysurvivors of the Normandy invasion have gathered in Southern Pines for a reunion.

They were aboard the USS Rich on June 8, 1944. As they were coming to the aid of a destroyer, their ship was destroyed by three German mines.

"I saw the men. They were lying on the deck. Some were dead and others dying. There was blood running down the deck like water, and I looked at the ship, and 30 feet of it was floating off," said veteran Ray Holler.

Many of the men relived those memories with the release of the movie, "Saving Private Ryan". They are dealing with them together.

They remember their 89 shipmates who died, and their efforts to try and save them.

"I don't remember faces even. He was a shipmate in trouble. He needed help, and that's what we wanted to do," said Holler.

Currently there is no national memorial to honor D-Day veterans, but efforts are under way to build one in Virginia.


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