SARASOTA, Fla. -- As the world pauses to remember the D-Day invasion 70 years ago today, two World War II veterans from the Suncoast shared some of their memories from D-Day with ABC 7.
Clarence Addy plays a song from the 1930's called Blue Room. It is one of the things he remembers most about D-Day. “That is the whole song, it was played all day from four o'clock in the morning on D-Day until 7 or 8 that night. Everybody that heard that song, 200,000 of them, it was the last song they ever heard in their life.”
Addy said he grew up playing the piano and knew the song instantly when he heard it playing in camp on June 6, 70 years ago. He said the General Eisenhower chose the melody to help lower the stress and tension on the day of the invasion.
“I understand why they would consider that as one of the music they would be for D-Day because it was the only safe and sound thing going on that day, the rest of it was all carnage and killing.”
Addy served a ball turret gunner on a B-17 Bomber with the 8th Air Force flying missions over Europe. He says he is thankful to have survived many close calls. “'I had my best buddies in a plane right next to us, it blew into a million pieces because it had a direct hit from flak and it went right down and nobody got out.”
Addy said he flew missions escorted by the famous Tuskegee Airmen, African-American pilots who were also known as the Red Tail Squadron. “The Red Tails would wait until you were through with the mission and pick you up again so you would see them again before you went down to the channel so they were watching your back end and that's why we loved them. They really did a tremendous job.”
Floid Smitty Smith served as an MP with the 720th Military Police Battalion and had the job of escorting Japanese soldiers who were being tried for war crimes. He joined the Army in 1945 because the Army misplaced his paperwork twice.
He finally went to the draft board for answers. “The lady got my paper work out and said my god, you should have already been gone. Before the week was out well I had my greetings, they called them greeting at that time.”
When he finally got Japan, the supply chain was not completely set up and he remembers eating only applesauce for days. “In fact I got hungry enough that I stole some applesauce and at that time I hated applesauce, couldn't hardly stand it but I stole a gallon can of it and me and my buddy, we skipped over the hill as we called it and we opened that apple sauce and really pigged out.”
First hand accounts and stories from WWII veterans are important to hear and document because of the 16 million men and women who served in WWII there is just over a million living survivors and we lose them at a rate of over 500 a day.