In their own words: The story of D-Day as told by the veterans who lived it (20 items)

By Deseret News

June 6, 2014

The Veterans History Project was created by Congress in 2000 with the goal of collecting and preserving first-hand accounts of U.S. wars for the benefit of veterans, their families and future generations.

In honor of the anniversary of D-Day during World War II, here's a look at some of the memories of the D-Day invasion given by those who were there and preserved in the Veterans History Project collection, as well as links to the full stories of the veterans highlighted in this list.

Learn more about the project and explore its databases here

Related: Historic photos chronicle the D-Day invasion

Related: Associated Press reports from D-Day, 1944: Allies win footholds in France

1 of 20.

"We knew (the invasion) was going to happen for several months, I guess … But we woke up one morning and the English Channel was completely full of ships. Now, what would you think if you woke up seeing the English Channel full of ships?"

- Billy Earl Edwards, 2nd Infantry Division; 45th Infantry Division

Read Edwards' full account of his service during World War II

>> U.S. troops prepare to embark a landing craft, which will take them out to a larger ship lying off the coast, June 5, 1944, at a port in England. These soldiers are due to take part in the D-Day landings.

2 of 20.

"Everything was pretty noisy before they announced that we'd be pulling out, and just like that it got quiet, and nobody said a word. And I think there was a lot of praying going on. I know I was, and I know others were — you just couldn't help it. You know, this could be your last night on earth. And it was, for a lot of them. It was the last night for some of them."

Dean Milton Weissert, 33rd Infantry Division; 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division (Big Red One)

Read Weissert's full account of his service during World War II

>> American paratroopers, heavily armed, sit inside a military plane as they soar over the English Channel en route to the Normandy French coast for the Allied D-Day invasion of the German stronghold during World War II, June 6, 1944.

3 of 20.

"At midnight, Captain Moore called us to general quarters and he read our instructions ... of what we were going to do — and we were going to do our best for America — and told us our orders and position we was going to be in and that sort of thing.

If I remember right, he played a song — 'God Bless America.'"

- Thomas Newton Wilmore, Company 196; Company 43; USS Herndon (DD 638); USS Denebola (AD 12)

Read Wilmore's full account of his service during World War II

>> The first landings were made in France by the Airborne Forces. The whole operation planned to take place with great precision was the result of many months of final preparations. Paratroopers are briefed before the take off on June 7, 1944.

4 of 20.

"Over 5,000 ships filled the waters and planes filled the sky as far as one could see ... all headed in one direction. The noise, indescribably deafening. Continuous firing from our ships ... salvo after salvo ... coupled with the drone of our planes bombing the beaches. Never in all the training I went through was I prepared for this."

- Benjamin Alvarado, G Company, 16th Infantry Regiment, 1st Infantry Division, V Corps, 1st Army; G Company, 317th Infantry Regiment, 80th Infantry Division, XII Corps, 3rd Army; 129th Military Police

Read Alvarado's full account of his service during World War II

>> A returning B-24 Liberator of the U.S. Eighth Army Air Force passes over part of the invasion armada as the boats steam across the channel toward the coast of Northern France, on June 6, 1944.

5 of 20.

"I remember the sky filled with airplanes, and there's no way you can describe a thousand airplanes in the air at one time, and the roar of the planes, and the sky just filled with airplanes."

- Glenn B. Weber, 8th Bomber Command, 9th Bomber Command

Read Weber's full account of his service during World War II

>> Long row of shiny new Flying Fortresses, part of huge reserves being built up in the United Kingdom for D-Day, stands by to be flown to combat units as replacements, May 25, 1944.