A 90-year-old Delaware County man was there 70 years ago when U.S. troops invaded the beaches near Normandy, France.
Editor's note: This story is from 2014. Bob Staggs died in December 2016.
SELMA, Ind. -- Friday marked the 70th anniversary of D-Day and people across the world took time to reflect on the thousands of people who gave their lives.
Bob Staggs got a gift from a friend five years ago. It was a small vial of sand brought back from Omaha Beach.
In 1944, then-20-year-old Staggs loaded onto a barge to head across the English Channel.
"We was all guessing we was going to France and we was going to invade something, but we didn't know what," Staggs said. "We didn't know where we was going. They didn't tell us nothing."
Bob and company pulled onto a bloody Omaha Beach.
"The beach was covered with guys and the Germans was shelling all over the place. There was a lot of gunfire going on and it was chaos going on when we came on," Staggs said.
He said he thought of those he loved and of those who loved him as he dodged bullets and cannon balls to get an armored vehicle off the beach to safety.
"I thought about mom and dad. I thought about how mom and dad was going to take it when I didn't come home. I didn't think I was coming home," Staggs said.
But months later, after a mission accomplished, he made it home. He recalled seeing the Statue of Liberty in the New York harbor and how it was a symbol of what he fought for.
"When that Statue of Liberty came in sight, everybody just started screaming and hollering and cheering," Staggs said.
He said he pulls the container of sand out on occasion, but that is about as close as he wants to get. But he said he would go if his country needed him.
Staggs said the war has made him especially grateful for the long life he has lived since D-Day. He raised two sons and said he is happy living out his days in Selma with his wife of 30 years.
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