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Private First Class Earl Chellis, Jr

1st Infantry Division - 16th Infantry Regiment - E Company

Omaha Beach

 
Standing on the deck of the troop ship the USS Henrico. Waiting to load into the LCVP. The order was given and over the railing and down the rope net I went into the Landing craft. The Landing craft was rocking so bad it was hard to stand up. We loaded up and moved away to join the other Landing craft that were forming circles.Then we headed to the beach. It was rough going. We were rocking from side to side and bouncing up and down. Men who got seasick were hanging onto each other to keep from falling down. I saw men floating around in life rafts. I thought they were airmen. I found out later that they were the tankers from the tanks that had sunk coming in. I heard a loud noise and looked up. It was rockets being fired at the beach from a ship.
As we were bouncing up and down. My LCVP got stuck on something underwater. We were about 250 yards from the beach. The coxswain tried everything to back off. Nothing worked. He said he was going to lower the ramp. As he did machine gun fire was hitting us. Shells were exploding all around. Some of the men in front got hit.
I jumped off the landing craft and into the water. It was over my head. When I hit the bottom I would have to kick up and down. Getting air and doing it again. I was being pushed into the beach from the tides and waves. Finally I could get a footing and walk out of the water. I then fell onto the beach to catch my breath. At this time my life preserver inflated scaring the Hell out of me. I though something was grabbing me. I got up and ran to the shore. You could see the bullets hitting the sand all around you.
The land was about twelve inches higher than the beach. So you could keep your head down. Every time you fired your gun, machine guns would fire back at you. Men were still coming in. It was getting very crowded on the beach.
Bodies of the dead and wounded kept washing up on the shore. They were coming in and out on the tide. The water turned red from all the blood. The medics were trying to get the wounded out of the water and on to dry land. I don’t know how long I stayed there.
Someone said move to the right. We got up and ran to where there was a line of men going up a hill and off the beach.
I got in the line up the hill and was told to step in the foot prints of the man in front of me because there were land mines all around us.
When I got to the top of the hill I looked down at the beach, shells were exploding and ships were burning. Men and equipment were still coming in.
On the hill top men were scattered all over the place. Men were looking for their own companies and divisions.
As I was waiting for the next move I was knocked over and hit the ground. I landed on my back, I heard someone say call a medic.
I had been hit by a piece of shrapnel on my left shoulder. It hit my trench knife making a hole in my shoulder. The medic patched me up and told me to go back down to the beach and I would get back to England. I looked at him and said. I just got off that beach and I was not going to go back down there. I got up and moved forward. I spent the night behind a hedgerow.
Pfc Earl Chellis, Jr