GAFFNEY, S.C. (WSPA) – Today marks 72 years since American troops landed on Normandy Beach in World War II.
Veterans in the Upstate are sharing their memories of their time overseas and the day that changed the war.
“It was horrible. There’s not a word in Webster’s Dictionary. No word can describe the horrors of war,” says Bo Bireley.
For Bo Bireley and Francis Wilkins, the memories of World War II are too painful to talk about, even to their own families.
“We’re young, we’re energetic, we’ve never left home, probably never even been out of Gaffney before,” says Bireley. “You’re in a foreign country and you’re training and you’re trained to kill or be killed.”
On the anniversary of D-Day, they share their own stories.
“Due to the weather, we thought it wasn’t going to happen, it’s going to be delayed,” Bireley says. “But Eisenhower called it and we had an opening there and we went ahead with it. We lost 9,000 in less than 12 hours at Omaha beach.”
“I probably killed a few Germans, but I’d say no more than three,” Wilkins says.
Bireley drove a tank, and Wilkins drove jeeps for the Army.
After D-Day, Wilkins had the difficult task of bringing back the dog-tags of those who died in the line of duty.
“It wasn’t an easy job, taking off of dead soldiers. Was not an easy job that I had to perform,” says WIlkins.
Though the years the have passed, and the uniforms they once wore are now in a museum, both men want everyone to remember those who gave it all for their country.
“There was a lot of sacrifice so that you and you can drive your car, you can go to the beach, you can go to the mountains, you can enjoy life,” Bireley says. “Don’t forget these people that made it possible.”
Bireley says hopes to go to France next year for the D-Day remembrance ceremony.
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