Thomas Wilkins, of McLoud, owns books war, but he doesn't need them to picture June 6, 1944 in Normandy, France.
“You just had to walk around the wounded and dead,” says Wilkins, who was part of the Army's 146th Engineering Combat Battalion on D-Day.
“I’m the first man out of boat team 8 to hit the beach and blow up obstacles,” says Wilkins.
Private Wilkins was awarded a Purple Heart and the Silver Star for his heroism after being wounded when he was shot on Omaha Beach.
He'd go on to fight in several big battles and to see the lives of many fellow soldiers cut short.
“It’s terrible. We were all trying to get lucky,” adds Wilkins, who turns 96 years old next week.
Wilkins still reads books about the battles he was in, including the Battle of the Bulge.
He no longer goes to reunions because only four people from his battalion are still alive today.
He tells News 9 he’ll keep in touch with the remaining battalion members as long as he’s alive.
“Oh, I’m lucky,” Wilkins says about his long life.