Albert J. Soday (standing on the left) led a group known as “Hell’s Builders” that built bridges for the troops before the D-Day invasion. By JAMIE PATTERSON
It was June 6, 1944.
In the midst of World War II, Americans sat on edge and waited as 160,000 troops landed on the beaches of Normandy on the other side of the world.
Nazi Germany held control of the heavily fortified French coastline. But the Allied troops prepared for the invasion with over 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft.
As the beaches rocked with fire and the waters filled with blood, families back home gathered around their radios as they prayed for their friends and loved ones involved in the critical battle.
It was around 2:30 a.m. when the first news of D-Day began to circulate around Yazoo County. Hours later, as the sun began to break over the rolling hills and Delta plains, Yazoo waited as her men became heroes.
“Our awareness was sharpened by the tug of our emotions,” a Yazoo Herald account read. “The bright blue sky and the floating white clouds seemed more pronounced, and the call of a lonely bob-white came through the stillness like the soft clear call of a bugle.”
Buddy Hatchett was a country boy from Holly Bluff. He joined the military in August of 1941. He had no idea that three years later, he would be storming the beaches of Normandy.
And he certainly didn’t envision that he would be among the first men to step foot on the beach during the first wave. Admired by his commanders for his sharp shooting skills and his ability to swim well, they insisted on him being in the front. The years of hunting and swimming in the Sunflower River landed him with the first spot.
He landed on the Omaha beach with the 29th Infantry Division on that early June morning.
“It sure was some experience,” he wrote to his parents a few weeks later. “I hope I’m never in another one of those landings.”
Silent prayers were mumbled on the Higgins boat as it made its way to the beach with the troops. Hatchett tried to stay focus, tightly gripping some photographs.
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