D-Day vet: 'It was a horrible scene'

CHESTERFIELD, Mo. - Bob Bareford is turning the pages of his memory with photo albums lovingly assembled by his daughter.

"I'm sort of the family historian," Barb Stulac said.

Lost time has been found again.

"The difficult part is to realize that Im one of the survivors and there were so many that lost their lives," Bareford said.

Shortly after being drafted into the Army during World War II, a Colonel pulled Bareford and several other men aside.

"And he said, how many of you know about radar?" Bareford said.

Radar was a fairly new technology and those who manned it were considered an elite unit. British and American scientists had refined it to "see" for hundreds of miles."

"We would get the direction of the aircraft, we would get the height of the aircraft and the speed," Bareford said.

But in June of 1944, Bareford's crew was shipped out in support of the troops landing on the beaches of Normandy.

"We loaded at night so we knew something was different but nobody told us that this was really it," he said.

Hours later, he was a part of the largest seaborne invasion in history and among the bloodiest. It is now known as D-Day.

"The beach was covered with smoke and fire," he recalls. "People are dying, guys are getting shot. You know it's a horrible scene. I think the thing that upset me the most was to see so many Americans dead in the water."

Allied Casualties on just the first day were estimated at least 12,000 and Bareford was there as radar specialist not a trained fighter.

"The question everybody says, well were you frightened? I say no I wasn't frightened I was scared to death. I really thought I was going to die. As it turned out, D-Day was the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany," he said.

Bareford's radar equipment helped the Allied Forces push further into enemy territory and he was there when American troops liberated the Buchenwald concentration camp where it's estimated 56,000 Jews and political prisoners died.

"When you walk in the first thing you see is iron gating around the whole thing probably 16 feet high and an arch gate that says enter by the gate, leave by the chimney," Bareford said.

Now 93-years-old, the old uniform still fits. Not long ago, he and other D-day survivors received a medal from the French government as thanks for their liberation, but he's most proud of being a father, grandfather, great grandfather and husband to his wife Marjorie for the last 72 years.

"My father is fun, outgoing, a great family man and he's a great patriot," Stulac said.

Bob Bareford plays down his role during World War II, but reluctant heroes are still heroes. And he's glad that special ceremonies take place on the anniversary of D-Day.

'There's very few of us," said Bareford. " There's not too many and soon we're going to be gone. I just hope that these traditions will be carried on because I think it's so important."

D-Day. A battle we will never forget thanks to the men we should always remember.


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