By RICK STEELHAMMER
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Clear skies and bright sunshine greeted the first elements of the Allied invasion fleet when it arrived off the Normandy coast on the morning of June 6, 1944, and at 6:30 a.m., began to move toward shore.
From his battle station on a 40mm gun mounted to the vehicle-crammed top deck of LST (Landing Ship, Tank) 504, U.S. Navy Motor Machinist’s Mate Jack Jones traded jokes and laughed nervously with other members of his gun crew as their ship began its approach to the shore of Nazi Germany-occupied France.
The roar of distant artillery and the hammering of machine gun fire were abstractions to the recent Stonewall Jackson High School graduate until he happened to glance at the water below as they traveled closer to shore.
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