OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) _ Don Donceel was only 18 years old the day Allied soldiers embarked on what would become the largest amphibious assault in history.
The World War II operation to liberate Europe from Nazi Germany became known as D-Day.
Naval warships and waves of bomb-dropping warplanes were dispatched to support the more than 150,000 American, British, Canadian and French soldiers as they hit five beaches _ Gold, Juno, Sword, Utah and Omaha _ early on June 6, 1944.
Donceel, now a 75-year-old Edmond resident, enlisted at 17. He remembers going to basic training in Texas and being shipped to England weeks later. For six months, he honed assault skills before the impending mission. Fear and the possibility of his own death didn't enter Donceel's mind, he said.
``That is the beauty of youth,'' he said Tuesday. ``You don't think of death in that way because you don't think it is going to be you. It is always going to be someone else.''
The mission was scheduled for June 4, but allied military officials delayed the invasion for two days because of the weather. Once the skies cleared, Allied commanders decided to begin the invasion.
Donceel remembered the rough waters made the trip to France for some soldiers as bad as the invasion itself.
``We were packed in there like sardines. The water was rough and everyone was getting sick,'' he said. ``You were almost happy to get off the boat _ even with the bullets.
``We landed on the beach that morning at about 8:30. We were coming in about two hours after the first wave had hit the beach. It was chaos.''
By nightfall, more than 4,900 Allied soldiers lay dead.