70 years ago, more than 150,000 allied troops led the largest sea-borne invasion ever when they stormed the beaches of Normandy, France on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
Thousands were killed or wounded, but the invasion led to the end of World War II.
“My B-26 group was the last group to bomb the beaches over there before the landing,” said James E. Padesky, a World War II pilot who was home on leave on D-Day.
“At the time we didn’t know it was a big a deal as it is now, but I knew that this meant that I would probably, if I was going to Europe I’d be involved in some pretty bad stuff,” he said.
Yellowed newspaper pages detailing what happened that day and what soldiers saw are now sitting in the Rock Island County Historical Society. Also filed there are stories of men from the Quad Cities who were among the more than 150,000 soldiers who stormed the beaches of Normandy, France.
“D-Day itself was a big deal and of course, we all know what all we lost and what it cost the country to have that,” said Padesky.
70 years later, it’s as important to remember what those men did as it was June 6, 1944.
“Well there aren’t that many that will remember 70 years ago either, there are not a lot of us left,” said Padesky.