June 6, 2014
Today marks the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion at Normandy, known in the United States as D-Day.
Morning Edition Host Monica Sandreczki visited Edward Shapley at the New York State Veterans Home in Oxford, to hear the 93-year-old Air Force veteran’s recollections of that historic day.
Shapley starts by recounting his fond memories of his New York hometown.
ES: Yes, I grew up in New York. Like I said it was country where I grew up, God’s country. That’s where I had everything I wanted.
MS: Do you remember D-Day?
ES: Everything was lit up. Everything was lit up with fire. I was in the what they call the bomb bay. And the bomb bay carried 4 bomb bays full of bombs. Can’t miss that.
MS: You had been in the plane coming over Normandy, how did you get down?
ES: Oh boy, a lot of strings, parachute. We didn’t come down where we wanted to come down, that’s for sure.
MS: When you were flying into France were you scared?
ES: Yes, because we were going in to do a job, We didn’t know how things were really going to go until we did it.
MS: what happened once you reach the ground?
ES: We killed everybody we saw, killed everybody we saw, very unfortunately. Yeah it was all fire fighting, all fire fighting. Yeah, it was a sad day but it had to be done, sad day but it had to be done.
MS: When you think of it being a say day what parts where those?
ES: Well, like I said, the taking of all those lives through air power. It’s just sad to see lives had to go that way.
MS: Once the shooting had died down, where did you go?
ES: Right down on the ground, found a location as quick as you could and then took up your pursuit to find your way into the firing area.
MS: What did you do next?
ES: I flew back over again and started all over again. That’s what the war was all about.
MS: How long did you go before you got to sleep again?
ES: Oh, two years before I got to sleep again. Yeah, that was rough going.
MS: The day you landed in Normandy, what do you remember seeing that day?
ES: I guess everything that you normally not see. I saw everything that I wanted to see in World War 2.