As the 75th anniversary of D-Day gets closer, we are continuing our stories with local World War Two veterans.
WFXR is sharing the memories of one veteran who saw first-hand the devastation that D-Day left behind.
“November 43 I received a letter from President Roosevelt that said greetings your friends and neighbors have selected you for service, I was drafted,” said Hayden Furrow.
Words written on a piece of paper, now forever written into 93-year-old Hayden Furrow’s memory.
“It’s a very honorable thing to do (joining the military) if you follow the rules, it’s very rewarding, it’s also a lot of work,” said Furrow.
The Salem native was 18-years-old when he was drafted into the army infantry going to South Carolina for basic training, then over-seas.
On D-Day, Furrow was in England but even there he could see the effect that historic day had hundreds of miles away.
“On that day the afternoon was much more intense, until the sky was full of aircraft, not exaggerating. Full;. That went on all night,” said Furrow.
One month later, he walked the same beach where the invasion took place. The sand still littered with debris. The town, in shambles.
“Everything the French people had was destroyed. Towns, farms, literally destroyed by the battle. But they came out to say thank you (shows picture) they greeted the soldiers, thanking us for their freedom. It impressed me to think what it really meant to them, we destroyed everything they had, still said thank you,” said Furrow.
But it was the journey after France, a couple weeks in the bitter cold, living in fox holes in Belgium that ended his Army career.
“Got hit by a piece of mortar shell wasn’t very big but it was enough to send me back to the hospital. When I was there, I found out my feet were frozen so for me the war was over,” said Furrow.
He finally made it back home to Virginia once the war ended.
75 years later the memories written into the National D-Day Memorial keep his memories alive from the battlefield.