Benton veteran remembers D-Day, 70 years ago
BENTON (KATV) — 70 years ago, American and allied forces stormed Omaha beach in Normandy, making it the major turning point during World War II. The D-Day assault was the largest on the land and water to date. Few survivors of that battle are still with us today, but Benton's Oscar Rowland says he's blessed to still be able to tell his story. Rowland Joined the U.S. Army on July 6th 1943. One year later, he was part of one of history's bloodiest battles. Of the 200 people in his company, only ten survived. Rowland was a rifleman when the gate dropped on his boat at Omaha Beach in Normandy. He vividly remembers the sights once he ran out on that beach. "They would put us in the water, some would drown, and some of them got shot. It was terrible" said Rowland. D-Day wasn't the only battle Oscar Rowland would fight in. Shortly after D-Day, Rowland and his company were order to take a critical bridge to allow the passage of the Allied army. On June, 12, Rowland took place in the capture of the city of Montmartin-en-Grainges, then the city Saint Lo and the liberation of the city Vire on August 7, 1944. Rowland's two month trek took him right into a battle at Rhine Valley and into Central Europe. After surviving World War II, Rowland was awarded Normandy, Central Europe and Rhineland Campaigns, three Bronze Stars and a Good Conduct Medal. His most recent honor came in November of 2013; a French Ambassador awarded Rowland with the French Legion of Honor. Rowland says that of all of his awards, most of his joy comes from five children and 13 grandchildren. His wife passed away in 2009. Today, he considers himself blessed to be able to live such a long life, and still be able to tell his story.