JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - At least 4,400 troops were killed on June 6, 1944, when thousands of brave young men stormed the beaches of Northern France under a hail of German fire.
One of those young men was 21-year-old Army Tech. Sgt. Carlton Lueck.
Lueck, 92, is one of the few left alive who can share a firsthand account of storming the beach during the Invasion of Normandy in World War II.
"(I remember) getting on this big metal boat. You couldn't reach the sides, and the guy's sitting up there driving it,"said Lueck, who lives on Jacksonville's Westside. "They were bringing all the dead people in on Omaha Beach up above the hill. They were all floating out in the water as far as you could see. A lot of the boats were sunk.
"It's something you don't want to live with, really," he said. "You went there; you got it done; you come back."
Lueck said he was in one of the later waves that stormed the beach.
"We had a problem because our supply ship was sunk a couple of hundred feet out in the water where it was still shallow," Lueck recalled. "We had to send a crew out there to get the supplies off the boat and bring them back in, because that was our rations."
Lueck's job was to set up communications on the switchboard so officers could talk to soldiers through field radios. Information came through Lueck, and he relayed it to soldiers at outposts to let them know when enemy planes were coming in.
He said he'd always liked radio communications, so when his captain asked for volunteers for radio school during boot camp, Lueck's hand shot up – along with nine other soldiers. Only six spots were available.
Lueck said he got up the nerve to talk to his superiors and said he didn't like the odds of being chosen. He told them he had some knowledge in the field, and he made his case for being selected.
"When they posted the list to go to school, I was on it," Lueck said.
Lueck, who fought in five battles, admitted he wasn't a perfect soldier during the war.
"I got busted a couple times, but I went right back up, because I was all they had," he joked. "Nobody else knew what I was doing."
He said his battalion would move into a territory after Gen. George Patton had "cleaned it up."
He joked that he still has a pass for one of the bases where they stayed in Germany, in case he ever decides to go back.
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