Sunday May 1st, 2016 5:16PM

D-Day: 'If you weren't scared, there was something wrong with you'

By Ken Stanford Reporter
Related Articles
  Contact Editor
GAINESVILLE - Walter Victor of Dawsonville and the late Bob Andrews of Gainesville are among the northeast Georgians who participated in the invasion of France 70 years ago on June 6, 1944.<br /> <br /> Both looked back on that day, the turning point in World War II, ten years ago on the occasion of the 60th anniversary of D-Day.<br /> <br /> Andrews, who was 80 at the time of the interview, was a tail-gunner on a B-17 bomber which flew two missions that day in support of the ground troops who went ashore from landing craft that had crossed the choppy English Channel or parachuted in or landed behind the beaches in gliders.<br /> <br /> Victor, 86 when the interview was conducted, was an infrantryman and went ashore from a landing craft. Victor's group actually went in on June 7 but he says he still saw plenty of carnage and German resistance associated with D-Day.<br /> <br /> "Bullets were whizzing by you, but, at least if they were whizzing by you, you were still alive because they were missing you," he recalled. "Before we started going ashore, you could hear them 'pinging' against the boat."<br /> <br /> Andrews, a retired Gainesville attorney who died in April 2005, said from 25,000 feet, he had no idea of the magnitude of what was taking place in the water and on the ground below him.<br /> <br /> He knew an invasion was underway, but not until a week later when he saw film taken on the ground during the assault was he aware of what the infantry and the others went through.<br /> <br /> Andrews said German resistance in the air was nil.<br /> <br /> "I never fired my gun," he said, adding, "the war was actually easier for those of us in the Air Force after D-Day."<br /> <br /> He said after the invasion, Germany shifted most of its aerial might to support its efforts on the ground, leaving Allied planes with little air-to-air resistance as they completed bombing runs or engaged in support of ground troops.<br /> <br /> Victor, a retired federal government worker, who was the official photographer for the Atlanta Braves at the time of the 2004 interview, says his group pressed ahead past the beaches and into the French interior.<br /> <br /> "It was two or three days before we stopped to rest," he said. "I wasn't keeping track of time as we moved forward, but when we did stop, it had been two or three days since we landed."<br /> <br /> He recalled seeing evidence that Allied paratroopers and those who came in gliders took heavy casualties.<br /> <br /> "We saw parachutes hanging on church steeples and gliders that had broken apart on landing," Victor said. <br /> <br /> Andrews said his plane's missions that day were in the interior of France as well.<br /> <br /> "We were bombing bridges to cut off supply routes the Germans would use to reinforce troops near the beaches. We went on our first mission and returned to base in England and were told to stay with the plane as it was prepared for another bombing run."<br /> <br /> Andrews said the weather was lousy, not good flying weather and certainly not good for bombing. But, he said there were enough breaks in the clouds for them to carry out their missions.<br /> <br /> Years later Andrews took a ride on a B-17 when it stopped in Gainesville during a nationwide tour. "He went up in it for a ride and was overcome emotionally, saying 'it was just too much,'" his son, Jay Andrews, said Thursday. "I'll never forget the impact it had on him."<br /> <br /> Victor says some of the landing craft ran aground in water that was over the heads of the soldiers they were to deploy. But, he says, there was no other choice but for the the troops to move out.<br /> <br /> "Some of them drowned right after hitting the water," he said. "They were weighted down with their equipment - some of them 17- and 18-year-old boys. The water was eight feet deep. We had been told it would be three feet."<br /> <br /> He says he managed to swim about ten yards and then was able to stand up and wade the rest of the way to shore.<br /> <br /> "I can't tell you how good it felt to touch bottom and stand up, but we were still taking a lot of fire. Bullets were striking the water all around us. We were stepping over, around, and on bodies floating in the water, but we had to keep going."<br /> <br /> Andrews and Victor said they were both scared. If you weren't, they agreed, there was something wrong with you.<br />
© Copyright 2016
All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed without permission.
Grass fire impacts rush hour traffic on 985
Rush hour traffic on I-985 was slowed by a grass fire Wednesay afternoon with one lane closed while firefighters fought the blaze.
10:19PM ( 1 year ago )
Judge denies motions to move, delay Tsarnaev trial
Lawyers for Boston Marathon bombing suspect Dzhokhar Tsarnaev asked a federal appeals court Wednesday to overturn a judge's decision to not move his upcoming trial out of state.
10:02PM ( 1 year ago )
Sheriff: Man shot 2 on I-85 because he wanted car
A 22-year-old man shot two people who stopped to give him a ride on Interstate 85 in South Carolina on Christmas Eve because he wanted their car to drive to Georgia, a sheriff said Wednesday.
5:21PM ( 1 year ago )
Local/State News
Hall County Library to host a free genealogy course
If you've always wanted to research the roots - and branches - of your family tree, the Hall County Library System is hosting and introduction to genealogy event Monday evening at the Main Branch in downtown Gainesville.
5:00PM ( 16 minutes ago )
Brenau, University of North Georgia graduation set for next weekend
The spring graduation season kicks off next weekend in Gainesville and Dahlonega as both Brenau University and the University of North Georgia hold commencement exercises.
3:00PM ( 2 hours ago )
Utility workers take pride in move-over law
An official with Sawnee EMC said utility workers took a sense of pride with Governor Nathan Deal's signature of the so-called move over for linemen legislation.
By Derreck Booth
11:41AM ( 5 hours ago )
Metro Atlanta developer announces plans for 508-acre mixed use community in the Braselton area
A metro Atlanta developer has announced plans to build a mixed-use community in the Braselton area that would encompass more than 500 acres on the Hall-Jackson County line.
7:30AM ( 9 hours ago )
Three arrested on meth-related charges following Lumpkin County investigation
3 people were arrested in Lumpkin County last Friday on several drug-related charges.
8:21PM ( 20 hours ago )