BOSTON (CBS) – Seventy years ago Friday, the largest armada ever assembled crossed the English Channel. Nearly 160,000 Allied soldiers were part of D-Day. The invasion would mark the beginning of the end for Nazi tyranny.
For one local man, Utah Beach was the destination.
“The first day was hell and high water,” Wallace Burbine said.
Originally from Malden and now 88 years old, Wallace Burbine enlisted when he was just 17. The seaman first class was part of a landing craft crew that hit Utah Beach on June 6, 1944.
“The job is to bring in supplies, whatever they need to fight a war,” Burbine said, “toothpaste, candy, cigarettes, guns, weapons, gasoline, everything.”
Cannon shells from German 88s rained down on the Americans.
“I’m gonna tell you the truth. I’m a kid, just turned seventeen, I didn’t know what it was gonna be like,” Burbine said. “When we were getting close to the beach we were getting hit by shrapnel bing bang bing. That’s when one of our men got whacked out.”
Because the shelling was so intense, they couldn’t unload.
“The skipper gave the command to take cover,” Burbine recalled. And for the next twelve hours, Burbine and his crew were pinned down.
“I don’t think I put my head up too much to look around but you’re right there were a lot of people on the beach, I could see laying on the beach.”
When D-Day ended there were an estimated 10,000 Allied casualties.
“I did my job,” Burbine said. “I did what I was supposed to do. What I was trained to do. I did all that.”
Wallace Burbine also served in Korea and Vietnam.
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