AUSTIN (KXAN) — “I lasted 37 days.”
When Norman Martin Ph.D., 90, reminisces on his time spent in service during the invasion in Normandy, France he remembers the danger he and his comrades were in, and the ultimate sacrifice many of them paid.
“Casualties in Normandy were very high. The infantry regiment I served with mostly – we ran about 4 percent killed and wounded per day,” Martin said.
D-Day was the largest military air, land and sea operation in American history. The invasion in Normandy took more than 5,000 ships, 11,000 planes and more than 150,000 service men to storm the beach of Normandy.
Martin was an assistant forward observer, and occasional German interpreter, with the Battery A 44th Field Artillery, attached to the 1st Battalion 22nd Infantry Regiment. Martin fought for 37 days at Utah Beach before multiple mortar fragment wounds took him out of the campaign.
“I heard a funny noise, really funny. It sounded like somebody had taken over a carpenter saw and pulled back the blade – bong!” Martin said. “Eventually, a doctor who had operated on me said what happened to me is that a piece of shrapnel had entered my chest, broken two ribs, and the noise I heard was noise transmitted from inside my body, from breaking my ribs.”
To this day, Martin still has a piece of German steel in his right lung.
“[D-Day] made the sacrifices that I, and other people, suffered really worthwhile. I have no doubt about our participation in the second World War,” Martin said.
At the beginning of the war, Martin said he started out with a pacifist mentality, but he quickly changed his mind and decided it was his duty to fight. His injuries after D-Day didn’t discourage Martin from rejoining the war efforts. After he took some time to recover, fought once more at the Battle of the Bulge until he was reassigned as an investigator with Information Control Intelligence of Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force.
Martin ended up marrying a Dutch woman who was living under German occupation during WWII and launched a prolific career working as a rocket scientist for the US Air Force and for the US Navy developing tactical data systems.
Today, Martin lives in the Westminster Retirement Community, where 25 percent of the residents are veterans.