The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.
Service to Others and Allegiance to U.S.A. - One Nation Under God
By Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Publisher
The story of Ray Shafer continues at age 19 after he survives the D Day invasion June 6, 1944 on the beaches of Normandy, France. He was in the third wave and had moved up the cliff with each soldier holding their own while at the same time battling further into the German controlled territory of France.
In two heavy battles in Saint Lo, and Siegfried Line, Ray was injured.
In the first, his gun was shattered and he thought he had lost his arm. He said he was afraid to look and he moved on with his arm flopping behind him like a chicken leg, with no feeling in it. He ran across another soldier that he recognized and thought he was dead, but he wasn't, and the two moved on until they crouched in a downed plane awhile. The Private wanted to turn himself in to the Germans to avoid being shot, but Ray said, "What makes you think they won't shoot us anyway?" They finally got back into their camp where they dressed their wounds and recuperated a few days, and the feeling came back in Ray's arm.
Near Siegfried Line, the second injury came with a blow. "I heard it coming, flattened out, and it lit right by me. I felt like it was pushing me, and I was out." Ray woke up in a panic as he could only see a little light and he thought he had been buried alive. He was strapped to a stretcher and a medic ran over to reassure him he was not buried alive. He went in and out of consciousness and was sent to the General Hospital where they said he had a bruised lung. He was fortunate every day to be alive.
Due to Ray's injuries, he was held back, but he said, out of 91 guys, 27 of them volunteered to be drivers. He would be delivering ammunition.
"I was scared all the time. Getting going in the morning was hard."
Ray said, "It was all about survival. Our company ran out of ammunition once and if the Germans had known, we would have all been goners."
Ray said at the hospital, he had to pass more tests for driving. He was part of the 5th Army and sent to Marsae, France to pick up 52 semis. (It was the first time ever that they tried using semi-trailers to haul "ammo" to and from.)
We were to trade our trucks for semis but we kept our trade-ins too so every man had a truck because we needed "ammo". Near Belgium one time we drove 11 days and 10 nights stopping every two hours for 10 minutes. Ray said, "You would just drop over the wheel and you slept, and refueled. We had 50 gallon tanks on each side and got 10-11 mpg averaging 30 mph. The governor was set for 50 mph and it was hilly country. On German highways we could kick it up, but across country we would be in a ditch driving 3-5 mph.
Ray drove a semi between the very large shipyard of Scarborough Harbor France to Antwerp Belgium with supplies of gasoline, ammo, food, k-rations, medical supplies.