(6 of 14)
Shells were continually landing all about me in a definite pattern, and when I raised my head up to curse the Germans in the pillbox on our right flank who were continually shooting up the sand in front of me, one of the fragments from an 88-mm shell hit me in my left cheek. It felt like being hit with a baseball bat, only the results were much worse. My upper jaw was shattered; the left cheek was blown open. My upper lip was cut in half. I washed my face out in the cold, dirty Channel water and managed somehow not to pass out. I got rid of most of my equipment. Here I was happy that I did not wear the invasion jacket. I wore a regular Army zippered field jacket, with a Star of David drawn on the back and THE BRONX, NEW YORK written on it. Had I worn the invasion jacket, I probably would have drowned.
The water was rising about an inch a minute as the tide was coming in, so I had to get moving or drown. I had to reach a 15-ft. seawall, which appeared to be 200 yds. in front of me. Finally, I came to dry sand, and there was only another 100 yds. or maybe less to go, and I started across the sand, crawling very fast. The Germans in the pillbox on the right flank were shooting up the sand all about me. I expected a bullet to rip through me at any moment. I reached the stone wall without further injury. I was now safe from the flat-trajectory weapons of the enemy. All I had to fear now were enemy mines and artillery shells.
Things looked pretty black and one-sided until Brigadier General Norman D. Cota rallied us by capturing some men himself and running around the beach with a hand grenade and a pistol in his hand. [He] ran down the beach under fire and sent a call for reinforcements. Every man who could walk and fire a weapon charged up the hill later on in the day toward the enemy. I got hit in the left foot while crawling by a mine.
At the end of June 6, we were only in about half a mile. As the evening progressed, I felt like I was getting very weak, and along the way, I got another bullet through the face again. I was starting to feel very weak from all that bleeding. As it got dark, I became very trigger happy, and anything that moved in front of me, I started to fire at.
About 3 a.m., I found myself lying near a road above the bluffs in the vicinity south of Vierville. I got an ambulance to stop by firing [in its direction], and it stopped, and two men came out and asked if I could sit up in the ambulance. [Later] they took me out and put me in a stretcher, and I saw a huge statue. I think later on, in retrospect, it was a church near the beach, silhouetted in the darkness. The next morning I saw the German prisoners marching by me. The 175th Infantry Regiment apparently landed around that time, and German snipers opened up on the beach, including the wounded. I got shot in my right knee in the stretcher. I had received five individual wounds that day in Normandy. The 1st Battalion of the 116th Infantry was more or less sacrificed to achieve the landing and was completely wiped out. It was a total sacrifice.
"I SAW AN ARMADA LIKE A PLAGUE OF LOCUSTS. THE NUMBER OF SHIPS WAS UNCOUNTABLE." --Anton Herr The German officer, 24, commanded a dozen tanks in a company stationed near Falaise