“There were body parts flying everywhere.” 93 year old Julian Parker of Cordele still remembers D-Day, June 6, 1944, wading on that beach in France. He said that the Germans had two big guns that were supposed to have been knocked out before the Americans landed.
The young soldiers wading on the beach were like sitting ducks. Julian said that some thought they were being smart by huddling close together. From his point of view, that just made a bigger target. He put a little bit of distance between himself and other groups as he made his way up the beach.
After the landing he moved through France and Germany. He saw the horrors of Nazi Germany and the death camps. At one place he said that bodies were stacked up like cord wood where the Nazis had executed thousands.
Julian does not talk a lot about his experiences. A medal display in his room shows, among others, two Purple Hearts and one Bronze Star. He pointed to his head to show where he was hit one time. He said that sometimes he still feels bits of shrapnel in his body.
He did not remember what he did to get the Bronze Star. He said that they wanted to promote him on the battlefield, but he turned it down. As he put it, he told the Army that he did not want to be there to start with and just wanted to get the job done and go home.
As a young teenager, Julian lived near the Georgia coast. He was still in school when he turned 18 and was drafted. After basic training in Mississippi, he went to London, and from London took the cruise across the English Channel with 500,000 other troops to land on a beach in France.
The war had an immense impact on Julian. He said that when he returned home, he went to his house and got his old hunting rifle that he owned since he was a boy. “I took it too the woods, dug a hole and buried it. I had seen enough killing and didn’t want anything more to do with it!”
On the day those men stormed the beaches, parachuted from planes, and flew gliders behind enemy lines, President Roosevelt addressed the nation and prayed for victory. The prayer is about 6 minutes and it is worth your time to hear it.
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