First there was D-Day, more than 100,000 allied troops storming the beaches of Normandy, France.
One year later, a young man, not even 18, possibly 17 at the time according to calculations, would be steering a boat just like this, during the battle of Okinawa. The last push, to take Japan.
“You were so scared, that you didn’t think about you know, being scared,” United States Navy Veteran Carlos Del Rio said. “You just think about getting in and getting out.”
Del Rio looking at his younger self.
“I’m proud of this picture, real proud.”
With memories, that feel like yesterday.
Del Rio served on the USS LST 687, in battle after battle, many under enemy air attack and threat of kamikaze pilots.
The final battle for Del Rio: Okinawa.
Del Rio drove small landing barges full of troops to the beach.
“You have to lower the ramp and let them all out, then back up,” Del Rio described. “And sometimes, your boat would brace like that, and you couldn’t get out.”
Del Rio says, he doesn’t think of the terror every day.
“My mama used to say I would get up in the middle of the night hollering,” Del Rio said. “But I never, never remember all that.”
But he does thank the good Lord.
“Thank the good Lord.”
“Thank the good Lord, you know, for seeing me, whatever I saw, and helping me through and everything,” Del Rio said. “I really thank the good Lord for that.”
Reporting in Clovis, Megan Rupe.