D-Day flyer says sights beat Star Wars
The Allied invasion of Nazi-controlled Europe on June 6, 1944 was the most unique military operation of its kind in modern times, presenting an awesome sight to the participants.
It was especially breath-taking from the air, where pilots had a bird’s eye view of what was happening. Flight Officer Bill Golden of St. Thomas was right above the invasion force when it landed at Normandy. It was a sight he’ll never forget, the vast armada and daring landing. “It’s the most impressive sight anyone will ever see at any time. It beat Star Wars all to pieces.”
“As the saying goes, you could have lowered your wheels and taxied over,” to Europe from England, he said, reflecting on the enormity of the task force.
The Day was Perfect
“We could make our attack and then go into the cloud to escape the ack-ack (anti-aircraft fire) or any fighters they might have had up.
Photo Reconnaissance Outfit
“We had the old beat-up Mustangs then. A heck of a nice airplane, but not a lot of power,” he said of the aircraft he would later trade in for a Spitfire.
Made Five Trips
The planes usually flew in pairs and Mr. Golden got his fill of flying on D-Day, flying five trips over the French coast.
On one early-morning trip, he and another fighter had to break away as they met a couple of Me-109 Messerschmidt aircraft which suddenly appeared out of the clouds early in the morning on invasion day.
Thought it would be Bad
“We thought ‘this is going to be bad,’ but it wasn’t. The anti-aircraft was very, very light.”
Although they expected opposition to be tougher in the air and even on the ground, Mr. Golden says “I don’t think there was any doubt to the outcome.”
The morale was extremely high among airmen,” and Mr. Golden said despite early German successes, “we all thought that as of the day they (Japan) dropped the bomb on Pearl Harbor, we’d won the war.”