Local Veterans Recall Memories Of D-Day
By Jay Lloyd
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Local soldiers, sailors and airmen joined one of the largest invasion forces in history. It was 70 years ago today. Many of them are no longer with us. But 30 years ago, KYW‘s Jay Lloyd gathered their vivid memories of D-Day and the beaches of Normandy.
Launching over 150,000 men, a vast armada and thousands of warplanes requires near impossible secrecy. But Corporal Hal Ryder of Radnor, who knew the invasion date, recalled a chilling warning. “The general turned to the colonel and said, ‘Tell the corporal that if any information on this meeting gets out, he’ll be shot and I’m not kidding.’”
The attempt at secrecy worked, the German high command believed the weather would preclude an invasion on June 5th or 6th, and when it came it would land at Calais, not Normandy.
It would be the pivotal event in the liberation of Europe, but to sailor Harold Genario of Royersford, getting there on a pitching, rolling ship was the challenge.
“I was so seasick. I kept saying, ‘Germans shoot me. Get me out of my misery.'”
But, when Genario looked up, the sky was dark under clouds of allied aircraft.
Lt. Mike Benarcik of Wilmington was up there. “Two thousand, three hundred planes. Stop and think. That’s an awful lot of planes.”
Historian John Eisenhower, son of the Supreme Allied Commander who lived near Phoenixville, recalled his father’s frustration as the invasion passed to the hands of his field commanders, “So in a way he was just as powerless as the King of England.”
For Dwight Eisenhower and his invasion force, June sixth became, “The Longest Day.”