Edward Smith Sr. was on the shores of Normandy, France, as the Allied Forces invaded. It's a day that is still vivid in his memory. (WRDW-TV / June 6, 2012)
News 12 at 6 o'clock / Wednesday, June 6, 2012
MARTINEZ, Ga. -- Wednesday is the 68th anniversary of D-Day -- when the Allied Forces invaded the beaches of Normandy in World War II.
For retired Army Sgt. Edward Smith Sr., it was a day he still remembers vividly.
"I won't never forget it. It does something to you you won't never forget," he said.
The memories are still very real for the survivor.
"It took us about a day, day and a half to get on the shore and take the shore. 'Cause they was waiting on us," he said.
Even though the ships were anchored only 3 miles from the beach, the journey to shore was not an easy one.
"They was picking up off just like flies. So you're lucky that you got to shore," Smith said.
He remembers the horrors that continued on land.
"When we went out into shore, and then all at once, it just clicked. And the fire started, and it lit up like daylight," he said.
Bullets peppered the water around him, claiming the lives of hundreds of soldiers, many of whom were his friends.
"The water began to turn red because the guys was getting picked off on the barrage," he remembered.
It was a terrifying battle for Smith who joined the service at the age of only 17.
There were few men who actually made it to shore.
"By a day and a half, two days, we barely had 30 men in our company left. They slaughtered us," he said.
Smith says he's still shocked he made it out alive.
"It's just remarkable, and God had to be with you. If God wasn't with you, you could call it quits," he said.
But he reminds us that freedom isn't free. It comes with a cost, he says, adding that "If you could see that cemetery, you'd know what I was talking about."
But when the Allied Forces claimed victory, Smith said he knew none of the lives were lost in vain.
"We felt good. We strutted like a peacock," he said.
The D-Day battle may have ended nearly seven decades ago, but we may never be able to measure the impact it left.
"D-Day saved this world. Saved this country," Smith said.