The D-Day anniversary stirs up a Reserve man's worst nightmares. O'Neil Boe, 92, was a paratrooper on D-Day and is recognized for his bravery in the war, but the horrific images of bloody battles still haunt him.
Boe has a flag waving outside his simple home, and a garden where he nourishes life from the earth. It's a pastime for a man who has seen so much death.
"I tell my garden, good morning garden. I talk to my garden that's what makes it grow."
"We were trained to kill or be killed," he said. "When December 7 came along in 1941, I said you know, my country needs me."
Boe didn't wait to be drafted. He volunteered. In late June 1942 he got a letter to report to duty.
He wanted to be a pilot, but failed an eye test.
Two enlisted men came to his house with another idea.
"He said they were starting a new deal call paratroopers. I said, what do they do? He said they jump out of airplanes. I said sign me up. "
He was part of the 507th Regiment Company B. He said it was a special regiment. They would go wherever they were needed. The group trained in rigorous drills all over the country.
"We'd go hiking thirty miles with backpacks just like on that June day."
On June 5, 1944 General Eisenhower visited the paratroopers hours before they were to land in Normandy. O'Neil Boe is in an historic photo. Eisenhower singled him out.
"He said, 'soldier where you from?' I said Louisiana."
Eisenhower called it frog country.
Boe said the he asked another man if he was scared. Eisenhower told him he was afraid many of the men weren't coming back.
"When I jumped on June 6 at 2:30 in the morning I was scared riding the plane. I got feared when I hit the ground," he said.
He described the darkness, bullets flying all overhead and trying to stay alive.
The night assault by Allied paratroopers came five-hours earlier than the seaborne landing on the beaches of Normanday. Paratroopers secured bridges and roads to keep them open for troops to penetrate deeper into France.
"We were on this side. The Germans were coming with tanks. We had to blow the tanks up and shoot the soldiers. Nancy, you could have crossed that bridge without stepping on cement at all because you would be walking on dead bodies. That's how we saved the bridge."
The fighting was fierce. Boe said they were supposed to stay there three days and go back to England. He said they were there 37-days. He earned a Silver Star for getting a radio back from German's who took it from troops who were supposed to relieve his unit.
"Seemed like I had to go get that radio. I killed about 11 Germans getting it. I got it and brought it back."
The 507th sacrificed many for the cause.
"We were over 300 in the company and 52 of us came back."
Boe was honorably discharged in December of 1945. He made it back home to the girl he married shortly after he enlisted. He still has bad dreams about the horrors he's seen.
"Everybody [asks] 'what do you describe it as?' I say I describe it as hell. I have never been there but I describe it as hell."
Boe had four sons and a daughter with his wife Rose. The daughter he named Jeanette after a French girl who sheltered him in her family's barn shortly after he landed on D-Day.