My dad Bob Hill is 91 years old, living with his wife Shirley in Fresno CA. As with so many of his generation he was profoundly shaped by World War Two, and he was part of the D Day invasion on Omaha Beach in Normandy 70 years ago. Years ago he wrote an autobiography, (well actually it was framed a a biography of his first car, a 1917 model T Ford which he still has and drive. With the anniversary of the D Day invasion a fan of his excerpted this chapter from dad's book Full Circle, which I'm pleased to share here. It's good writing, an interesting snap shot of one soldier's memories 70 years later. When I talked with him on Father's day about it he added a couple of asides. He went into Normandy on day three, in relative safety, after bobbing around in the sea while so many others went in ahead, and he said that the only reason he wasn't facing machine gun fire and land mines with the first wave of soldiers was that while the other guys in his Iowa home town were studying agriculture and animal husbandry in high school, he was taking typing and shorthand, the only guy in a class full of girls. Then when he joined the army he was trained as a code man because of those skills, and thereby avoided the horror of direct combat. He also reminisced that it was so dark out there at sea with thousands of ships coming and going he couldn't figure why everybody wasn't bumping into each other. But he said that in the course of the inconceivable build up to the invasion he never heard one person complain.
It was June 4, 1944. Every last one of us was taken to a hush-hush meeting in a large, brick warehouse type of a structure. Soldiers were there by the thousands, and we were all standing since there was no place to sit.