97-year-old Army Vet Remembers D-Day
By Jon Jordan, NEWS 9
EDMOND, Oklahoma - Sixty-five years ago American soldiers arrived on the beaches of Normandy to fight for their country.
Oklahoman Virgil VanDyke remembers the events that unfolded on D-Day. He fought on the beaches of Normandy as a private in the army.
The invasion may have happened 65-years-ago, but VanDyke remembers it like it were yesterday. He said the only reason he survived that day was because he was one of the lucky ones.
The 97-year-old veteran spends his days at TealRidge Nursing Home in Edmond. He tries to stay active doing things like playing pool and doing what he loves most, playing his harmonica.
No matter how many days go by, VanDyke will never forget June 6 1944, D-Day.
"The shore was far and back you could hear the shells go over head, swish like that you know," Virgil VanDyke said.
He said the most intense moments of his life were during the invasion.
"One guy says ‘Where in the hell we at?' I said ‘I don't know but we better get out of here' and we kept going," the 97-year-old army veteran said. "Whether he made it or not, I don't know. I don't know."
On his wall hangs a picture of men he served alongside.
"We were all just like brothers," VanDyke said.
One man who stormed the beaches of Normandy, who Virgil VanDyke never met, he said likely saved his life.
"We had an artillery spotter with us. I don't know where he came from. He must of landed in a parachute," VanDyke said. "I never will forget that. That guy carried a radio on his back and he would call into the radio back there where it was and they would shoot those guys right in front of us."
VanDyke admits there are things about D-Day and the war he would like to forget, but doing that he said is impossible.
"There is something all the time reminding you of the war. You can't get away from it. It's a never ending thing," the army vet said. "There's one war and then another war comes along and that reminds you always, reminds you of the war you was in."
At Utah Beach where VanDyke fought on D-Day is where over 200 allied troops died. It's believed over 10,000 allied troops died that day, 6,000 of them U.S. soldiers.