MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WMOT) -- Tomorrow, the sixth of June, marks the 70th anniversary of D-Day, the day in 1944 when U.S. led Allied forces fought their way ashore in German occupied France.
American veterans of World War II are now dying at the rate of 600 a day, so historians are pushing hard to capture their stories. Here in the mid-state, the Albert Gore Research Center at Middle Tennessee State is conducting oral history interviews with military vets.
Nashville native James Calvin Hollon was one of the first ashore on D-Day. He recalls that the man standing in front of him was immediately hit by machine gun fire as the landing craft ramp came down.
“Just as he got ready to step on the ramp a machine gun burst swept across. He fell in the water. (not clear)’s body was not found. But they found his dog tags 20 years later.”
Tennessean Prentice Fulton came ashore in Normandy two days later on June 8 and the landing was still perilous. The landing craft behind his struck a German mine.
“I was looking straight at this thing when it hit and all I could see was, you know, bodies and vehicles going into the air. Then I knew survival was…this was serious business.
Allied D-Day casualties are estimated at about 9,000 dead. Just one month later one million allied soldiers had crossed the beaches at Normandy and were steadily pushing the Germans back across Europe.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Some of the Gore Center's oral histories are available online.