WARWICK— The invasion of Omaha Beach on D-Day in Normandy, France will forever be taught in history books around the world and like many of his brothers-in-arms one local veteran, Warwick’s Don McCarthy, will never forget the sounds and smells of that day; June 6, 1944.
“Every year, as the mid-May sun warms the countryside, the sounds and smells of early spring, 1944, come rushing back to me,” he said last Thursday at Quonset, where a Veterans’ Appreciation Day organized by the West Warwick Veterans’ Council, the RI National Guard and the Suzanne Henseler Foundation was staged.
McCarthy was part of the 29th Infantry Division, landing on Omaha Beach along with the 1st Infantry Division and nine army ranger companies.
“We were disciplined and well-trained but unlike the 1st Division, we lacked experience in combat. However, we would overcome that fear,” he reminisced.
Prior to their departure for Omaha Beach, McCarthy and his squad spent a week in early March near Barnstable, England at the British Assault Training Center.
“We were provided with every detail on our mission, we were instructed to memorize air strike details and beach characteristics,” he said.
In late May, his division, alongside the 1st Division, was brought to Dorchester, England as they prepared for rifle inspections and the distribution of ammunition and rations.
“Everybody felt we were ready as ever,” he proclaimed.
On May 30, 1944, the British lined the streets waving American Flags in support of their allies and they offered up God’s blessings.
McCarthy said that scene is something he will “always remember.”
After the 70 men boarded the landing craft, the voyage to Omaha Beach began.
McCarthy reminisced about the overcast skies and the ravaging wind and rain that caused for an unpleasant journey two days prior to their landing.
“Many men hunkered down below, some playing poker, reading and some thinking about home; praying,” he said. “We were the leading segment — many wondered if we would return.”
Just after 2 a.m. McCarthy was asked to report on deck and ordered to ascend into a smaller boat.
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