Withering gun and artillery fire, landing mishaps and mines killed some 4,500 allied men the day the invasion of Normandy began on June 6,1944.
But combat medics like US Army veteran Edwin Kendrick, 93, faced those type of risks with no way to defend themselves. As a medic he was considered a non-combatant under the Geneva Convention and so when he waded ashore on June 9, 1944 he carried only his first aid kit and a red cross armband.
The fighting was still heavy in the area and as he notes it was bad enough that two men from his unit got captured almost immediately. “That’s how rough it was,” he told The Local by phone from his home in Shelby, North Carolina.
But even getting ashore was an accomplishment. When the gate on the landing craft dropped there was no way of knowing if the water was “knee deep, saddle deep or up to your neck. They were shooting artillery and everything else.”