Saginaw man clearly remembers his role in the D-Day invasion - ABC 12 – WJRT – Flint, MI

Saginaw man clearly remembers his role in the D-Day invasion

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SAGINAW (WJRT) - (06/03/14) - On this date 70 years ago, thousands of Allied soldiers and sailors were in England preparing for the invasion of France and the most important battle of World War II.

Among those waiting to fight was a Saginaw man.

Robert Likam was with the 101st Airborne Division. He had been trained to parachute from airplanes and blow up enemy bridges. The upcoming anniversary of D-Day reminds him of all the friends he left behind in French cemeteries.

Likam was an Army Air Corps mechanic before he was persuaded to become a paratrooper. After months of intense training, he found himself standing just a few feet from General Eisenhower. The Allied commander had sobering news for the invasion force. Likam remembers Eisenhower saying, 'I regret to tell you this but tomorrow 50 percent of you people will not be here.'

"He was pretty close, but wrong; 60 percent didn't make it," Likam said.

Early in the morning of June 6, 1944, the 22-year-old Likam jumped into Nazi-held France. He hit the ground hard.

"That's the last thing I remember for 15-20 minutes or so," Likam said.

Soon, he was under enemy fire as he went about his assignment - blowing up four bridges.

"The bridges were pretty well protected. We managed to get some, but not at the designated time," Likam said.

The next few days were filled with fierce combat. Even today, Likam has nightmares about the fighting.

"Still do. They still chase me," Likam said.

He's never been able to escape what today we call PTSD.

"I often wonder how the wife stayed with me because I used to get these spells really often," he said.

Likam, who earned a bronze star, left the Army as a buck sergeant. He has returned to France four times, and found it very traumatic.

"It's too heart-jerking. Acres upon acres upon acres of white crosses," he said.

Likam says this Friday, he will reflect on his buddies that never made it back home. He wishes others would take the date more seriously.
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