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"When we got to the beach, we realized it wasn't driftwood, it was all bodies." (Audio interview, 36:08)

   Leroy C. Bowen, Jr.
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War: World War, 1939-1945
Branch: Coast Guard
Unit: Landing Craft Infantry Large (LCI-L) 83
Service Location: Atlantic City, New Jersey; South Hampton Coast Guard Radio Station, Long Island, New York; Dartmouth, England; Omaha Beach, Normandy, France
Rank: Radioman Third Class
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As a kid, Radioman Third Class Leroy Bowen, Jr. spent summers in Wildwood, New Jersey, where he took sailing lessons at a nearby Coast Guard Training Base. After the attack on Pearl Harbor, he left school at the age of sixteen and lied about his age in order to enlist in the Coast Guard. During the invasion, he served aboard Landing Craft Infantry Large (LCI-L) 83, which was damaged by a mine as it approached Omaha Beach. While under continuous fire from the Germans, his crew patched the holes with mattresses and made it back to England, listing all the way. In his interview, he describes the lasting memories of pulling drowning men and bodies from the water on D-Day, and speaks with pride about the role of the Coast Guard in the invasion.

Interview (Audio)
»Interview Highlights  (8 clips)
»Complete Interview 
Download: audio (56 min.)
»Memoir, untitled
 Personal Correspondence
»Letter from "Tiny" to Leroy C. Bowen, Jr. [4/5/2000]
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»D-Day 70th Anniversary
 Audio (Interview Excerpts) (8 items)
Lying about his age so that he could join the Coast Guard; blaming the discrepancy on a typographical error (00:47) Deciding to join the US Coast Guard because of previous exposure to sailing and other Coast Guardsmen; pride in being part of the branch (01:08) Going out on maneuvers to train for invasion; assignment to Omaha Beach; memory of realizing that invasion had started (02:18)
Pride in the Matchbox Navy; sequence of events on Omaha Beach during invasion (03:55) LCI-L damaged by mine; abandoning ship and going ashore; stranded on beach; patching the landing craft while under continuous fire (02:09) First view of beach; seeing bodies and thinking they were driftwood; patching up the craft with mattresses (02:36)
Not realizing at the time the risk involved in invasion; being well trained; trusting in his Skipper (01:32) Still remembering scenes from invasion; having nightmares right after D-Day; still dreaming about what he saw (02:25) 

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  October 26, 2011
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