Sixty-nine years ago, more than 150,000 U.S., British and Canadian troop stormed the beaches of Normandy and altered the course of World War II. As YNN's Matt Hunter reports, on Thursday, a local veteran who survived that battle shared his story in Saratoga Springs.
SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Enrolling as a 19-year-old from South Glens Falls in 1939, David Sexton never envisioned a lengthy stay in the Army.
"I thought, hey, I'll get the year over with, get myself a good job while the rest of these guys are drafted,” Sexton said Thursday. “It didn't work out that way."
With the onset of World War II, one year morphed into five.
"We had been indoctrinated enough so we knew this was no fun game," Sexton said.
Near the end of his tour of duty, Sexton and his fellow soldiers in the 90th Infantry Division began training for Operation Neptune. Carried out June 6, 1944, the mission would come to be known as D-Day.
"It's like when you're going to go to the dentist, you know you've got to go and then it happens,” Sexton said. “To be scared was not unusual."
Sixty-nine years removed from the invasion on the coast of Normandy, Sexton shared his story with fellow vets from the Saratoga Springs Lions Club Thursday afternoon.
"A 16 inch shell whistling in your ear is unbelievable,” Sexton recalled. “The holes that would be made, you could put a building in. The insanity of battle, it’s just crazy."
Sexton's battalion was among the more than 25,000 troops that stormed Utah Beach. For all in combat, it wasn't immediately known they'd turned the war in the Allied Forces favor.
"Of the short period of time I spent there, we weren't ever out of artillery fire or fire fights. It was continuous,” Sexton said. “So you really never got the feeling it was over with."
After the war, Sexton returned home to Saratoga County with his wife, whom he married during his time in the service in California.
Ninety-two-years-old and almost seven decades removed, a simple explanation sums up a hero's time in combat.
"It was an experience."