ALEXANDRIA, La. (KALB) - The Invasion of Normandy turned the tide of World War II, but it came at a great cost.
Lacy Rogers and Dr. Leon Hyatt | Photo Source: KALB
With the loss of some 25,000 troops, America needed more boots on the ground in Europe.
When Allied forces stormed the beaches of Normandy on June 6th, 1944, Dr. Leon Hyatt had just been assigned to the Infantry after the Army stopped the engineering program he was in.
“They kept us so busy in basic training, we didn't really know what was going on with the war,” he said.
Meanwhile, Lacy Rogers was just finishing airborne school after volunteering to become a paratrooper.
“We were told that they were rushing our group up to go into combat with the airborne in Europe,” he said.
Rogers, a squad leader in Easy Company, 502 Parachute Infantry in the 101st Airborne Division was among the troops to replace those killed and wounded during the Siege of Bastogne in December 1944. The image of the remaining men is burned into Rogers’ memory.
“Arms in slings, patches over eyes, a crutch maybe and other wounds. I wanted to give up my stripes. Those boys deserve it more than I.”
In January 1945, Dr. Hyatt was serving with the 70th Infantry Division and fought in the Battle of Wingen-sur-Moder in northeastern France in what he called the “other Battle of the Bulge”.
“I was injured by a .50 caliber machine gun, and yet, I only had flesh wounds, one on my right side and one on the left.”
Veterans like Dr. Hyatt and Rogers helped bring an end to World War II, a fight so many brave soldiers before them gave their lives for.
“They knew they were facing hell, but that didn’t deter them,” Rogers said.
“No doubt the generals planned it well, but it was the generals out there on the line that just wouldn’t give up and kept going back and back,” Dr. Hyatt said.
When asked what it means to be called the "Greatest Generation", Dr. Hyatt said he doesn't deserve the title. Rogers said it was just about winning the war.
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