SHREVEPORT, La. -- Paul Madden was like a lot of young Americans during World War II. He felt like he needed to do his part. And so he volunteered for the Army in 1943.

A jar at his Shreve Island home holds seashells and sand from Omaha Beach, Normandy, France, along with a picture of Paul on a return trip many years after the war.

Those were the sands where our brave men stormed the beaches on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Paul arrived three months later.

"If you're in the infantry, you're about as close as you can get," Paul says of his combat action.

Paul advanced as an infantryman, fighting through France and into Germany, earning a Bronze Star on the way, along with a Purple Heart.

"They were easy to come by," Paul said, modestly.

Being hit with shrapnel did not put him in the hospital. But for a while, his frozen feet did. Feet that had previously carried him from danger.

"We were crossing a field before we even got to the ravine. Germans had machine guns at the corners of the field. So they had a crossfire across the field. Fortunately we only had one man killed and several were wounded," Paul said.

Then there was the time the Germans fired a round that surely should’ve killed Paul, too.

"You'd hear the rush of the shell and then you'd hear the bang," Paul described. "And then the walls kind of shook a little bit. And I happened to be looking at the door. And this eight inch shell hit in the door. Fortunately, it didn't go off. It was a dud. It just spun like a top and settled down.

"So that was that was a close call," Paul added.

He returned home to Shreveport after the war to live out his long life.

"I was proud to have served. People shake their heads at me. But I think I was where I wanted to be, really, in infantry. I felt like they were the soldiers," Paul said.

Paul finished his business degree at Centenary, and became an accountant for United Gas and Pennzoil.

Paul Madden

Paul Madden holds a photograph of himself as a solider during World War II.

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