Valley WWII Veteran Recalls His D-Day Experience


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CRIMORA, Va. (WHSV) -- On June 6, 1944, more than 150,000 troops took part in the Invasion of Normandy, the largest amphibious assault in the history of mankind. The fierce battle helped turn the tide against Nazi Germany in World War II.

"Water up to our neck just trying to keep our rifles dry," said Wesley Simmons, who was just 21 years old when the front of the Higgins boat he was in dropped open and he and the rest of Company C were at war.

"When we landed on that beach, we faced a whole lot of barbed wire entanglements, no way to get off the beach until we got torpedoes up there to blow holes through the barbed wire," explained Wesley, "We lucked out a little bit because shells fell short, set a hillside on fire back there just off of the beach and we went in through the smoke. That's the only thing that really saved us."

Company A to the left of Simmons, was not so lucky. They suffered 96 percent casualties in the first 10 minutes of fighting on Omaha.

70 years after D-Day, the now 91-year-old Simmons doesn't focus on the past. He was injured three times and earned numerous medals for his service, but some memories of that June day he will never forget.

"One thing, the first German I seen was about 16-years old and he was scared half to death.He started begging for his life and we had orders to not to take prisoners, but that was one case I disobeyed orders"

Simmons does not regret the war, he says he knew why he was fighting, "We knew if we didn't go over there and fight that the United States would be under German rule."

D-Day was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany. Within a year Hitler was dead and Germany gave it unconditional surrender, all because men like Wesley Simmons stormed a beach 70 years ago.


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