D-Day was 67 years ago Monday, yet Vincent Raio and Bernard Rosenthal, of Pleasantville, remember it just like it was yesterday.
Raio, one of five brothers in the service, was a combat engineer on D-Day, which was originally set for June 5 but the seas were too rough so Operation Neptune, as it’s also known, was delayed one day.
Raio set off at 6:30 a.m. under the leadership of General Theodore Roosevelt Jr. “We were the first ones on the beach, us Combat Engineers and [Roosevelt] said, ‘OK, let’s start the war here.’ Then we started moving inland.”
Raio’s duty as a combat engineer was to “blow up the obstacles on the beach.”
“There was a lot of artillery fire coming in,” Raio said. “I was lucky really. The navy was firing rockets, planes flying overhead, thousands of paratroopers coming down. That’s all I remember. There was so much commotion going on.”
Rosenthal arrived in Normandy a month later but said he had a close connection to the invasion.
“I had two brothers that were there,” he said. “My brother Manuel was at Omaha beach. He was wounded. He was hiding in a slip trench and an 8mm cannon with the metal explosion … hit him with the shrapnel.”
Rosenthal was enlisted on D-Day, but he had not been deployed yet. “From what I had heard, I wasn’t supposed to ship out until I was 19,” he said. “On my 19th birthday, June 14, I was in a holding ship in New York harbor just about ready to ship out … A month after D-Day, I came to Omaha Beach in Normandy and I had to walk very carefully because the whole beach was loaded with mines left by the Germans.”