The Hancock-Henderson Quill, Inc.

RAY SHAFER-PART 5 Ninety Years Of Memories

Service To Others And Allegiance To U.S.A.-One Nation Under God

By Dessa Rodeffer, Quill Owner

Ray Shafer, age 20 and his Army buddies, after 22 days on the Atlantic were transported by the Navy to St. Wales. "We were suppose to assist with the landing Anzio Beach in Italy, but they changed our course. When we boarded a train it started raining and we heard firing of German planes."

They received more training and became acquainted with the LCI (Landing Craft Infantry) which they were suppose to have had in the states.

"I learned much after I left home-I was scared to death all the time, but I never thought of running. I was surprised of the amount that went AOL and how tough it was on them, the prison time, etc. and on their record."

Ray said, "When we left for the invasion of France in Normandy June 6, 1944, LCIs brought us in.

"We were on the 3rd wave that started at midnight, and we were told nothing." As we approached around 2 a.m., we were walking around and looking toward land. It looked like the whole world was on fire. Several little towns on the beach were ablaze. I was coming in on a British ship in the third wave as a support group, and I was scared to death. I didn't feel I knew anything.

A Lieutenant came along and told us to check all our equipment, hand and smoke grenades, wire cutters, etc.. It wasn't close to any training we had had. They unloaded us and where we went in, there was no wire, just water up to our waists. We had a belt flotation device to help. I had mine pretty high because I'd seen some turn upside down due to the weight of everything. We shook hands and wished each other well because we knew we were not all going home, which scared the H out of me. I figured I'd be the first one shot."

After they unloaded them into the water, Ray said some sunk in 12' ft or bigger holes, due to their weight. "We snapped off our flotation device, they were shooting all over, it was so noisy. We had machine guns and artillery and we were on the left side and sheltered more than others were.

There were a lot of men dead on the beaches who came before us." Ray said he was upset that he hadn't passed the physical needed for "Rangers" due to injuries in his left leg.

"Rangers climbed a 100 ft. cliff where Germans built into the side of. A lot of Rangers sacrificed their lives for those of us who followed. I didn't know if the water was cold, if my clothes were wet, or when they were dry. It was a long way from my thoughts. We were busy and everyone was on their own. We had water, sand, and a cliff. We were to head for the bank and take over the area. The tide was out and when the door drops, you get out.

"It took a few days to get to the highest ground. When you are fighting there is so much you don't remember. You are thinking about staying alive and doing what you're suppose to do. We were told the Germans had dugouts and it was almost like a town. They told us we were back-ups, but we didn't know what to believe."

[History tells us: " 160,000 Allied troops landed along a 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany. General Dwight D. Eisenhower called it a crusade in which "we will accept nothing less than full victory." More than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft supported the D-Day invasion, and by day's end, the Allies gained a foot-hold in Normandy. The D-Day cost was high, more than 9,000 Allied Soldiers were killed or wounded -- but there was more than 100,000 Soldiers that began the march across Europe to defeat Hitler.]

-to be continued