BEAVERDAM — Harold Andrews had been in the Army just over a year when he first deployed overseas in January 1944. A communications man, Andrews spent a few months training in England with soldiers who’d already seen action. Then came Andrews’ turn — June 6, 1944.
It was D-Day, the invasion of France and the beginning of the end of Nazi Germany’s reign of terror through Europe. Andrews, a member of the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, parachuted behind the beachheads of Normandy where thousands of Americans soon would land.
“It was just somewhat routine. We’d been training for it, so I didn’t get overly excited about it,” Andrews, 90, of Beaverdam, recalled. “It was a different experience. We just kind of took it as something that was going to happen. We were somewhat scared, but we knew it had to be done. It seemed like the time and the place for it.”
The mission was a success.
“We were right on target,” he said. “We were right where we were supposed to be.”
The unit stayed in the area, disrupting enemy radio traffic before heading back to England. In September, Andrews’ unit was part of the invasion of Holland in a bid to end the war. It didn’t work.
By winter, Andrews again found himself in one of the war’s great engagements, the Battle of the Bulge, fighting on the Allies’ northern flank. A case of trench foot, however, ended Andrews’ days on the front line. He was sent to recuperate in England and then to the U.S.
“We had long periods of boredom and short periods of great excitement,” Andrews said. “It was a great relief when the war ended. We were ready to pick up the pieces and start life.”
Andrews returned home near Beaverdam and worked on a farm for several years before getting into factory work at places like FC Russell Co. in Pandora and Excello in Bluffton, the company from which he retired.
Andrews eventually met and married his wife of 61 years, Helen Marie Shaw, and the couple had four children, eight grandchildren and 10 great-grandchildren.
Andrews said the greatest lesson he learned from his experience in World War II was to believe in what he was doing.
“Soldiers believe in what they’re doing,” he said. “That’s part of the battle, that you believe in what you’re doing, that you will succeed.”
You can comment on this story at www.limaohio.com.