SPOKANE – The 70th anniversary of the Normandy invasion means that the people who lived it are now in their late eighties or nineties. Yet for Spokane native George Whiting, 96, it does not seem all that long ago. His visual memories of the day after resurface at a single mention of D-Day.
“It was a terrible scene on the beach and all the soldiers in the water,” Whiting said. “It was just an awful – worst thing you ever seen, really.”
Whiting was drafted into the U.S. Army when he was 22 years old. He became a staff sergeant in World War II, and was in charge of about 50 men who were responsible for bringing in expensive radar and computer equipment to track enemy planes.
It was Whiting’s job to yell, “Fire,” to command his company to shoot them down. His company shot down 42 of them.
On June 7, 1944, his company was transporting the equipment in on a landing craft. As they approached the beaches of Normandy, where more than 9,000 allied soldiers were killed or wounded the day before, Whiting recalls the scene of thousands of soldiers in the water.
“You can’t imagine how many,” Whiting said. “Just wave after wave of ‘em.”
Ten years ago, Congress awarded Whiting for his role in the Battle of Normandy with the Jubilee of Liberty Medal. Whiting said the real recognition should go to the men who lost their lives there.
"They should all get a medal.”