LAS VEGAS (KLAS) — In 1944, thousands of American and allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France to rid Europe of Nazi tyranny. The battle helped lead the troops to a victory in World War II.
Seventy-five years later, the guns over Omaha Beach rang out in remembrance of D-DAY, which happened on June 6, 1944. But on that day, the shots were fired in hate.
Each year, the people who are known as the “greatest generation” continues to shrink. Only 3 percent of the 16 million of Americans who served in World War II are still alive.
8 News Now Reporter Patrick Walker spoke with retired Sgt. 1st Class Roger Bain. He was one of the many troops who landed on the beaches of southern France just days after the first allied invasion.
In the largest seaborne invasion in history, more than 150,000 Allied Forces opened the door for nearly two million Allied troops over the next two months.
“We didn’t make it onto the beach until afterward because there was no room for us,” Bain said.
Then, only 19 years old, Roger ain was placed with the 30th Infantry Division during the war. His unit was waiting in England on June 6 before landing at Omaha Beach nearly a week later.
“There’s so much wreckage you might say, lying around in pieces,” Bain said.
The 30th ID pushed Nazi troops back into Germany over the course of about 9 months. Three-thousand of the division’s soldiers died during the push, including most of Bain’s convoy during a battle in Belgium.
“You see the guys get hit, knocked out, one way or another; wounded or killed, but you don’t stop, you’ve gotta keep going,” Bain said.
Bain took shrapnel from a mortar shell to the leg during a counter-attack on January 13, 1945. But after he recovered, the sergeant 1st-Class returned to battle to finish out the war. His bravery earned him a Purple Heart.
“Push through the lines over there, take that little ground over there;” well, I know they’re going to shoot at me, but I went anyway.”
More than 400,000 Americans died fighting the war. Bain considers himself one of the lucky ones who survived. Now nearly 95, many memories of the war are beginning to fade, but some like surviving an attack from a diving German fighter plane will be with him forever.
“I stood right with that gunner there and watched him pour that .50 caliber right into his engine,” Bain said.
While they waited in England, Sgt. Bain says he trained for months with his division, only knowing they were preparing to go into France, and that was all he knew.