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Carl Boedecker, SEA 1/c

    My sketchy recollections will not add greatly to the story of the Rich's participation in Normandy, but I believe, if each of us contributes whatever we do recall, the sum total will provide a more complete picture of the events of those days. My memory, now, is aided by a narrative I wrote, for my own use, in the months after discharge, in January, 1946. But, it is remarkable how vivid some of the memories remain after almost 50 years.

    My battle station was tile clip room, under the 1.1 un, which I shared with Norman G. Jensen, RM2. The tension, June 6, was great as we manned our various stations, hatches were battened down. But, soon after H-hour, if I am remembering correctly, the sense of danger had relaxed sufficiently so that we would slip out on deck, briefly at least, to see what was happening. I remember the awesome sight of the battleships belching huge, orange balls of fire as they lobbed shells onto the German fortifications.

    I don't recall events of the 6th that Black and Westcott, for example, mentioned in their journals the dog fight, the attempted rescue of the downed pilot which suggest we were pretty tightly shut up in the clip shack. How long we were kept at battle stations I don't remember either; I think we stood usual watches during daylight hours of most of the 6 and 7th. Those days, as I remember them, were warm and sunny. I stood regular watches in alter-steering and remember sticking my head out of the hatch to enjoy the air and also, I suppose, to avoid the trapped feeling which that small compartment could induce. This room became the tomb, on the 8th, of Travis Stephens, QM2.

    I seem to remember standing at the rail, when not on watch, trying to see activity on shore and going up on the bridge to use the long glass for a better look. I think I remember standing in chow line, portside, on the main deck and seeing the corpse of a GI that we passed as it floated in the water. I wondered that no attempt was made to retrieve the body. Both nights, I'm sure, we spent at battle stations, but I don't recall that we slept, ate and relieved ourselves at our posts.

    On the morning of the 8th Jensen and I were a our battle station. I suspect we were standing just outside the clip shack when the first explosion shook the Rich. If we had been inside, we might have been injured by falling clips. Each clip held about eight shells and must have weighed 10 pounds. The clips were stacked on shelves like books, and we were replacing the fallen ones when the second mine tore off the stern. The order was given for all hands to go forward and prepare to abandon ship. There being no longer anything aft, going forward seem prudent, and I went up the starboard side to join the crew gathering there awaiting orders to jump over the side. I remember standing at the rail, pulling my inflated lifebelt up to my armpits and looking up at the bridge for the signal to jump. l must have been close to the point of the final explosion. I presume it was flying debris that broke my jaws and threw me into the water. I don't remember hearing the blast.

    The next brief period of consciousness that I recall occurred on an LST I was being treated by Corpsman Ray Tinkel of Ft. Wayne, IN. All I remember of the time on the LST is that I asked his name and home, asked for a cigarette and asked whether l would likely get a medical discharge. The questions were not, necessarily, in that order. (When my parents visited me, just alter I got to Chelsea in Sept., I mentioned Tinkel to them, although l didn't have the last name quite right. My Dad wrote to the Ft. Wayne Chamber of Commerce; they put articles in the local papers and succeeded in locating Tnkel, who happened to be home on leave at the time. Ray visited my parents on his way through Milwaukee and told them about my condition while aboard the LST.)

    I learned, later, that I was taken out of the water on the 9th and was picked up - face swollen, frozen stiff and covered with oil - to be taken ashore for burial. I can only assume that, when the rescue craft were picking up our survivors, I appeared lifeless, and they were urgently looking for men who could be saved. It seems unbelievable that an unconscious person would remain afloat for that length of time. But the records give my time of arrival on the LST about 9AM on the 9th. The doctors accepted the date as correct since, given the water temperature at the time, it would take 12 hours, or more, for the feet and lower legs to freeze.

    I remember being at some kind of aid station, I suppose It was, in a large tent, my broken jaws were wired and legs put in a plaster cast. I don't know how long I stayed at this facility.

(Editors note: He didn't mention he lost both legs. What a guy!)

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