Jim Holdcroft

Jim Holdcroft has an evenlope of snapshots from D-Day, including a picture of the landing craft he switched to. It was a twist of fate that saved his life.

During our Hometown Patriot series over the last eight years, KTBS 3's Gerry May has had the honor of meeting lots of veterans from right here in the Arklatex who were in the D-Day invasion 75 years ago.

Some of the men in this story are no longer with us. But we wanted you to hear some of their stories from that brutal day -- and pivotal moment in history.

What was Roy Florence thinking as he stormed the beach at Normandy on June 6, 1944?

"Thinkin' duckin' them bullets!" He said. "The Navy was a shellin'. The Air Force was dropping bombs. And you didn't know which one was going to hit you. We waded blood and water up to my waste."

Roy Boyter showed us quite the framed souvenir, blood stained an all.

"I went to Omaha Beach with that jacket," he proudly pointed out.

Harold Daily of Shreveport operated one of the landing craft, hauling troops to the bloody shores.

"I still have nightmares. You couldn't swim or walk or wade without stepping on people that's dead," he told us.

James McNeal of Robeline said, "There was blood floating around in the water. You could see bodies floating around. They were shooting us out of the water like shooting ducks out of a pond."

Jack Gowan said, "There was so many people, young guys killed, I mean just ... the beach was full of 'em."

Frank Sanders said, "It was like hell. Everything was blowing up and shooting and killing men on both sides."

Dewey "Frosty" Kinsey of Marshall said, "There was just a lot of gunfire and everything. Cannons, big shells going off here and yonder and everywhere.

"You never knew when of them them bullets had your name on it," the future pro bull rider continued.

Leonard Cadenhead of DeBerry said, "There was still a lot of bombs falling and mortar shells, a lot of small arms fire. We lost several men in our outfit making the invasion."

Doug Miller of Shreveport said, "That was really pretty gory. It affected me mostly later. I got to where for years I couldn't stand the sight of blood.

"Still the sight of blood bothers me. Even my own blood," he added, shaking his head and taking a deep breath.

John Carpenter said, "I was 29 years old. Most of them were about half my age," he said of the troops that ran to shore with him. "Kids that lied to get into the service. They just went crazy. I was just as scared as them."

Jim Holdcroft of Bossier City was not one of the more than 2,500 Americans killed because of a twist of fate. He showed us a picture of the landing craft he was on with the number 644.

"I was supposed to be on 646 in Howell, England. But it wasn't ready. We got on 644. Later, the skipper said 646 got blown up on the beach," he explained.

Two years ago, Jim was among World War II vets on a Heroes Flight to our nation's capitol, receiving gratitude from other tourists.

"Fells good," Jim said on that day. "Feels like I did something."

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