Augusta-area residents make, experience D-Day history

‘TRYING TO FORGET’

Albert Shaw rarely speaks of his time in service.

“After all these years,” said Shaw, wiping away tears. “I’m still trying to forget it.”

Shaw, 90, of Martinez, served in the 69th infantry division during World War II and arrived in Normandy the day after D-Day.

“I was part of the second wave of troops into France,” he said. “When I got to Normandy, the bodies were stacked up like cordwood.”

Shaw’s D-Day duties included protecting a bridge, as well as dropping ammunition into a 70-pound barrel.

“I carried that barrel all over Germany,” the West Lake resident said. “It wasn’t a lot of fun.”

Shaw, along with three of his brothers, served during World War II.

“Albert was looking at all those bodies and had no idea if one was his brother,” wife Joyce Shaw said. “Can you imagine that? And think about their mother. Every Sunday she’d write to her sons never knowing their condition. I can’t imagine.”

Although Shaw has no regrets about serving, he made it clear that he wouldn’t wish the same experience for his family.

“I’m very proud I was part of it,” he said. “But I would never want to do it again and hope none of my grandchildren will ever have to go through anything like this. Some of the things I saw were truly horrible.”

‘VERY SCARY’

Larry Loeffler’s order was clear on D-Day: Don’t leave the ship.

Loeffler, who has lived in Augusta for eight years, was a member of the Navy and part of a unit in charge of delivering troops and supplies across the English Channel.

“I was on the LST 307, one of the second groups of ships to go in on D-Day,” Loeffler said. “Throughout the war, our ship made 30 to 35 trips from Southampton (England) to Normandy to deliver supplies.”

Loeffler was 18 years old on June 6, 1944, a day that remains clear 70 years later.

“We were on a flat-bottom ship and had to wait for the tide to come back in before we could go back to England,” the first-class seaman said. “It was a very scary experience and something I’ll never forget.”

‘HIGH LEVEL OF RESPECT’

Last month, Ed Presnell and his two sisters spent 18 days in Europe, tracking their father’s footsteps during World War II.

“I had no inkling how much the lessons learned over the last three weeks would impact my already high level of respect for those we honored,” said Presnell, of Augusta. “You can say it was a complete success and a life-changing epiphany.”

Presnell’s father was a first sergeant of his company, which arrived in Normandy six days after D-Day.

“Daddy was a member of the Army, and his job was to keep records during the war,” Presnell said. “He never spoke about it to us, but he did keep a chest full of pictures, maps, helmets and journals. That’s how my sister got all the information for our trip.”

Presnell’s father, now deceased, earned two Purple Hearts for his service during World War II.

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