Today marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944.
More than 150,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France on that day to fight Nazi Germany. According to the National D-Day Memorial, the landing included over 5,000 ships and 11,000 airplanes: “After years of meticulous planning and seemingly endless training, for the Allied Forces, it all came down to this – the boat ramp goes down, then jump, swim, run and crawl to the cliffs.”
History remembers it as the largest military air, land and sea operation ever and as the beginning of the Allied victory in World War II.
World War II D-Day Veteran Elmer Marler, of Wilson County, remembers it as a day he would go through again – if that is what his country asked of him.
“Back then I never thought I would see a 70th anniversary of D-Day. I volunteered to go into the service on Nov. 10, 1941 and I was sworn in on Nov. 11th. All of my friends were joining and I just wanted to do my part,” he said.
Technician 5th Grade Marler had married Dolly Kelly on Sept. 1, 1943 before his position took him to England in November of that year. Once troops arrived in London, they prepared for the invasion.
Marler was featured in an article written by Linda Beth Evins that appeared in the March 26 edition of The Wilson Post. In that article, he recounted that on D-Day, “our soldiers did all that was asked and more.” (He was also featured in another article in The Post on July 4, 2007.)
Around 9,000 Allied soldiers were either killed or wounded in the invasion and many of the soldiers who made it back home are not around to share their stories anymore, Marler added.
“I am the oldest living graduate of Watertown High School. I turned 99 years old on May 10. A lot of World War II veterans are gone. All of my classmates and the people I grew up with are gone,” he said.
Looking at a figurine of a soldier given to him for his faithful service as a forward observer with the 186th field artillery during Operation Overlord on D-Day, Marler reiterated that joining the Army all those years ago was a good choice for him.
“I know that I did my part. If I was a young man I would join again.”
Marler is a resident of Elmcroft of Lebanon, a senior living community.
Staff Writer Sabrina Garrett may be contacted at email@example.com.