MARSHALLTOWN, Iowa - It was a day of memories for two special veterans at the Iowa Veteran's Home in Marshalltown.
Freddie Lindsey, 92, grew up in Des Moines and Sioux City. He remembers D-Day vividly. He and his unit were laying mine wires on Utah beach. The enemy "shot our boats to pieces," said Lindsey. He found himself sinking to the bottom of the water with a 40 pound backpack strapped to him. He was able to grab his knife and cut the straps on his back pack and rise to the surface of the water. "When I went down, I thought that was the end of the line," said Lindsey.
Once on the surface, another frightening sight: a German submarine very close by. Lindsey pulled his .45 caliber pistol and began firing. Soon he heard shouts to stop, as that was an American submarine.
His unit had 156 men. "Twelve of us were rescued," he added. He said his memory was one of awe, when ever they would try to stop the Nazis, they always had "another tool in their bag," he said. But in the end the Allies won out due the huge ships loaded with weapons which kept coming. He notes the support of the American people was overwhelming. "Many times I thought we would get defeated," Lindsey said. but in the end it was the huge arsenals sent from the US which turned the tide
Less Graham, of Marshalltown, was what is called D plus 10, which means he was sent in with the 9th Division ten days after the initial wave. He was a supply clerk to keep everything in stock. He lost his duffle bag after leaving it with others on the beach. "Never saw it again, " said Graham. He said many he went in with were in experienced. "I don't consider myself a hero," said Graham. "just doing my duty, one of the lucky ones who survived," he added.
Both men are thankful for the recognition they are getting on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. Lindsey says he remembers it looked bad at times. "The Nazis sunk 15 of our tanks," he said. "The ships we sent day and night scared the Germans," he added. Asked what people should learn from his experience: " Watch out for America, no one else is going to," he said.
Brigadier General Benjamin J Correll of the Iowa National Guard read a statement to the troops by General Dwight D. Eisenhower on June 6th of 1944.
"The eyes of the world are upon you, the hopes and prayers of liberty loving people everywhere march with you. The tide has turned the free men of the world are marching for victory ... we'll except nothing less than full victory."
Correll also noted that Eisenhower had drafted a speech in which he planned to take the full blame if the operation failed. Correll told the gathering to "let America continue to stand for the ideals that these men fought for on the beaches of France so long ago.
The Marshalltown High School National Anthem Singers, directed by Amy Ose provided a high point for many of the veterans at the home when they did the "Armed Forces Medley" Some soldiers were able to stand or sing along with the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and Coast Guard songs were sung.