By Brenda Tollett
ADA — “I kept thinking the next (bullet) was mine,” said Darrell Bolich, Ada, a veteran of D-Day invasion of Omaha Beach.
Although its been 68 years since Bolich, then a 17-year-old U.S. Army soldier, hit the Omaha Beach shore running, the shocking images he saw that day are permanently etched into his mind. He described the June 6, 1944, event as “a devil.”
“I wouldn’t want to go through it again,” he said.
Bolich was one of 160,000 Allied troops who landed along the 50-mile stretch of heavily-fortified French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the beaches of Normandy, France. More than 24,000 casualties made Omaha Beach one of the deadliest battles during the D-Day invasion.
Bolich said he was aboard a closed Landing Ship Tank designed to carry large quantities of vehicles, cargo and landing troops directly onto an unimproved shore. Earlier landing crafts at Omaha Beach were open and troops were exposed to waiting enemy gunfire.
“We could hear a lot of gunfire before the ship opened and we all hit the shores running,” Bolich said. “We had to run over a lot of dead bodies to avoid the enemy.”
“We had to fight our way in (away from the open shore). It took nearly all day,” he said.
Bolich said one of his buddies on the ship was killed soon after landing on Omaha Beach. In a recent letter to him concerning the history of the 175th Regiment, Bolich said there are only nine surviving members of the company in which he served, which was Company B.
By nightfall on June 6, more than 9,000 Allied soldiers were dead or wounded, but more than 100,000 had made it ashore and secured French coastal villages.
Within weeks, supplies were being unloaded at Utah and Omaha beachheads at the rate of more than 20,000 tons per day. By June 11, more than 326,000 troops, 55,000 vehicles, and 105,000 tons of supplies had been landed on the beaches. By June 30, the Allies had established a firm foothold in Normandy. Allied forces crossed the River Seine on August 19, according to the website www.U-S History.com.