Wichita Falls resident Loyd Voyles, 96, was drafted in 1943 at just 19-years-old. He served on the front lines of the D-Day invasion in Normandy, France.
Although it’s been 75 years since the largest seaborne invasion in history, Voyles said he remembers it well.
“I don’t remember what I did yesterday, but I remember what I did 75 years ago today,” Voyles said.
Seventy-five years is a long time, but Voyles said waiting for his name to be called on to head to Normandy felt like forever.
“One day here they come and [said] ‘Okay it’s your time to go,'” said Voyles. “So we went down and got on the landing barge and when we got to Normandy, France they were still bombing and shelling,” Voyles said. “Bombs were dropping each side of the landing craft and I thought ‘well the next one’s gonna get me. Pretty rough years, years I never want to go through again.”
While those years of his life were rough, Voyles said nothing compares to June 6.
“Normally a lot of horseplay, loud talking with a bunch of young G.I.s,” Voyles said. “That time, that day, nobody said a word, just perfectly silent and we all had the same thought: ‘is this it, is it the last day of our lives.”
Though many years have come and gone, Voyles’ mind still goes back to the early 1940s.
“At times I’ll think about something that happened during the war about the time I go to bed and I can’t get it out of my mind,” Voyles said.
Voyles said he was often faced with life or death.
“You know you think in war your mind gets muddled,” Voyles said. “It does things to people and I would’ve thought no more about shooting that pilot of that plane than I would about shooting a rabbit or a squirrel.”
Voyles returned home October 31, 1945, holding onto a promise he made his wife.
“When I saw the sign that said Wichita Falls city limits, I threw those cigarettes out the window and I said ‘a promise made is a promise kept,'” Voyles said.
Voyles and his wife had 77 years together before she dies in 2018. While his mind may not be as sharp as it used to be, Voyles said he still holds on to two important memories: the love of his life and the battles he fought.
At 96 years young, Voyles said he still makes trips to Walmart and mows his own yard.