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Local veteran remembers D-Day

Rochester, N.Y. -- At 91 years old, Francis Gloeggler still remembers the D-Day invasion--nearly 70 years later, the beach, the bloodshed, everything about that day is still fresh in his mind.

"We were on Omaha, that's the one that lost most of the guys-- that's the one with the big cliff."

June 6, 1944--more than 150,000 allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy. "That day was a bloody mess, there was blood all in the water, all in the shore," Gloeggler said.

Aboard the USS LST 27, Gloeggler watched soldiers swim to shore-- he saw some drown, others gunned down as they struggled to make it over 160-foot cliff at Omaha Beach.

"The Coast Guard picked up something like I think about 900 fellows in the surf there and the surf was pretty high that day."

Gloeggler's second year in the Coast Guard, he was just 21-years-old--about the same age as the rest of his crew.

"We lost quite a few," Gloeggler said, "a lot of fellows got shot up a couple times out on our ship."

One of thousands of ships, USS LST 27 carried in 50 tanks to take onto shore.

Gloeggler said, "The first tank that went off the tank deck hit a mine and six fellows that was on it just got killed immediately."

A historic invasion, it was a pivotal point in the war, where many have said WWII was determined. "We of the Western Naval Task Force are going to land the American Army in France."

In a scrapbook full of photos and postcards, Gloeggler saved the letter that announced the invasion.

"It says when you're finished with reading this, tear this up and burn it," Gloeggler said, "well, I didn't burn it."

The letter said the upcoming battle would be unlike any other. "It demands more seamanship, more fighting," Gloeggler read the letter out loud, "we must operate in the waters of the English Channel and the French coast."

It marked a turning pointing in WWII but the war still wasn't over--Gloeggler crossed the English Channel 120 times before it came to an end. "We were attacked many times by the Germans," surrounded by danger, Gloeggler said the troops suffered through a brutal winter.

"When we were parallel with General Patton's army, they were all out of supplies, we dumped ammunition, gasoline, everything." It's those things-- the people he saved and the war he helped win that Gloeggler tries to keep in the forefront of his mind as he gets ready to turn 92.

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Washington Times