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D-Day survivor from Piedmont remembers landing at Normandy - abc27 WHTM

D-Day survivor from Piedmont remembers landing at Normandy

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PIEDMONT, Ala. - Roland Cronan did not even want to be in the military, but 70 years ago Friday he stormed the beaches of Normandy with thousands of American soldiers.

"Scared to death," the 91-year-old veteran said.

"We didn't know what to do.  The first wave went straight up, and then they all went 'pow'."

Cronan said his unit watched and learned, and came up with a route up the hill.  He remembers going up with a friend nicknamed "Pop", who referred to him as "Piedmont".

"He said, come on up.  I went up behind him in case he got shot," Cronan said.

"I said, 'you been crying Pop?'  He said 'hell yeah, you have been too.'  He said, as he pointed his finger at me, he said 'I can tell you one thing.  You can kiss the states goodbye, you'll never see them again,' but both of us made it."

He didn't even want to be in the military, but a letter came in the mail when he was 18.

"I said 'mom, what is this?'  Before she ever answered me, tears started running down her face.  She said 'honey, you've been drafted in the U.S. Army.'"

Cronan said one of the things that sticks out to him was when the sides called a truce so they could pick up the dead and wounded.  He remembers the young faces.


US soldiers land on Omaha Beach on D-Day in Normand, France, June 6, 1944. (AP Photo, File)

"They wasn't men, they was kids.  We thought we had to do what they told us to do.  We did it.  We did a good job, I think," he said.

Cronan lost many friends, but he also said he feels bad for other young soldiers who were just following orders.


US soldiers landing on Normandy beach on D-Day in Normand, France, June 6, 1944. (AP Photo, File)


"It wasn't them people's war.  Many of them's good people.  Somebody made a mistake whenever they did D-Day.  I mean, nice, young men.  Just kids like us."

He said he is not concerned about anyone ever forgetting what happened on D-Day, and is grateful for all the appreciation shown to him.

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