Region 8 Veteran Remembers D-Day - KAIT Jonesboro, AR - Region 8 News, weather, sports

Jonesboro -- Heather Flanigan

Region 8 Veteran Remembers D-Day

June 4, 2004 -- Posted at 4:43 p.m. CDT

JONESBORO -- This weekend marks the sixtieth anniversary of the monumental allied invasion of Normandy. The First Infantry division led the way to liberating Europe as they fought and secured Omaha Beach.

A Region 8 veteran was part of the famed 'Big Red One'... he shared his memories of that fateful day.

"They came and got me out of the cotton patch more or less and gave me 13 weeks training," said World War II Veteran Wayman Perkins.

Perkins was just a boy of 18 when he found himself a Scout in the First Infantry Division. He was on the beaches of Normandy when D-Day happened.

"The part of it that was bad, was the first four or five hours, that morning. that's when most of them was killed and wounded," said Perkins.

Perkins had served for about six months in Europe when he was shot by a German soldier.

"I started to holler Handy-Hoke, which means 'hands up' in German," said Perkins. Then next thing he remembers, he woke up in a hospital bed. It turns out, he'd been shot through the mouth.

"I said the right word and had my head thrown back. Some words, your tounge goes down and some words, your tounge goes up. So I did everything just right, so you want to remember if you see the bullet coming, hollar Handy-Hoke to let it in the right way," said Perkins.

Memories of war can be disturbing, but Perkins says he wouldn't trade his experiences for anything.

"It sort of makes you feel good that you participated in it. I wouldn't go through what I went through for a million dollars, but I wouldn't take a million dollars for it," said Perkins.

Words from a man whose a living reminder that freedom does not come without a price.

Surviving members of the Big Red One will hold a reunion in Chicago in late July and early August.

Meanwhile, Sunday marks the actual D-Day anniversary, and the Craighead County Veterans Foundation will observe the occasion with a 3 p.m. ceremony at the anchor of the USS Arkansas on the courthouse lawn.

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