Local veteran remembers D-Day 70 years later
June 6th 1944. D-Day. Local navy veteran Bob Uppgaard was 20 years old when he was ordered to go ashore on Omaha Beach 70 years ago.
Uppgaard says, “On D-Day my job was as a medic. My job was to crawl to each one of these wounded when they were hit and I was prepared only to give the morphine shot in his butt and say I’d be back and I’d write his name down and I came back later and we helped him on the way to the hospital ship.”
Uppgaard kept a journal during the invasion on rolls of toilet paper he found aboard his ship. He wrote down the names of the 12 men he cared for on the beach as well as his other duties as a mechanic during the construction of the world’s largest portable harbor. The Mulberry Harbor served as the avenue in which the Allies’ cargo, tanks and other supplies arrived on mainland Europe.
Uppgaard says, “The Seabees, that was their main project to build the Mulberries and then train the guys so that they knew that they go in like this and they got them into position and they dropped them down. It was an honor to be part of this Eisenhower invasion.”
Uppgaard says the officers informed them how important D-Day and their jobs were to winning the war. He was told to go anything that needed to be done and to listen to his orders. Uppgaard says his training is why he was able to make it home.
Uppgaard says, “We knew this had to happen. Each one of these stages were important. It was a learning process. And everything you had to be prepared because you knew your life was at stake at any moment. And I wasn’t afraid.”
70 years later Uppgaard still gets emotional thinking back to what he and his battalion did. And he says there’s nothing better than someone on the street come up to him to thank him for his service and share their family’s story with him.
Uppgaard says, “It’s nice to be appreciated.”