Local 100-year-old recalls fighting on D-Day as a soldier
Louis Graziano is believed to be the only surviving eye witness to the Germans surrendering during WWII
THOMSON, Ga. (WRDW/WAGT) - The 79th anniversary of D-Day is Tuesday. It’s the day thousands of Allied soldiers landed on the beaches of Normandy, France.
Louis Graziano is a local 100-year-old World War II veteran who took part in the D-Day invasion and the Battle of the Bulge and witnessed the German surrender.
Graziano’s story starts in 1943 when Uncle Sam drafted him into the Army. He served for three years and was an eyewitness to events we only hear about in our history books.
Abroad the Queen Mary, Graziano traveled across the Atlantic Ocean with 18,000 other troops
“The German submarines were chasing us,” Graziano said. “And the storm was so bad that we were supposed to go straight to England but we got in the storm and German submarines.
It was a trip one cannot imagine traveling on.
“I just did what I had to do,” Graziano said.
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June 6, 1944, was the day Allied forces invaded Normandy. Graziano landed in the third wave onto Omaha Beach.
“I had to climb that cliff, which was 100 feet high on a rope ladder,” Graziano said. “And the Germans were shooting down at me.”
As bullets peppered the waters, he continued fighting.
“And we fought them all the way to Saint Lo then from Saint Lo to Reims and that’s how I got to Reims, France,” Graziano said.
There he was in charge of buildings occupied by Americans, including the Little Red Schoolhouse, the place he watched the Germans surrender at.
“They signed it then I took the Germans up to Eisenhower’s room,” Graziano said. “He didn’t want to be in the room in case they decided not to sign. He wouldn’t shake hands with them. So they clapped their heels together and he dismissed him.”
It was a great day for Graziano.
“I knew once they signed it, I was happy because I could go home then,” Graziano said.
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