D-Day vet preserving his story: 'Glad that I came through it'

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by Larry Seward / KHOU 11 News

khou.com

Posted on June 5, 2014 at 7:02 PM

Updated Thursday, Jun 5 at 8:22 PM

TAYLOR LAKE VILLAGE, Texas – American and Allied troops prepared to storm beaches in Normandy, France 70 years ago. Joe Battista was there. Now, he’s fighting to keep his crew’s story alive.

“There’s not many of us left who were there,” Battista said. “I feel I was one of those who was, I don’t know if you want to say honored to be there, but I sure was glad that I came through it.”

June 6, 1944 was D-Day. It was the largest sea invasion ever.Then 19-years-old, radioman 3rd class Joseph Battista was there aboard the USS Somers.

“I never saw so many ships in all my life,” Battista said. “There were ships every place you looked.”

His most vivid memory is the bravery he saw. Battista remembers radio operators not in the fight offering sailors on the Somers six month’s wages to trade places.

“Not one of us was willing to give up spots as we were all eager and ready to go to the invasion,” Battista said.

2,500 allies died that day. On the Somers, none suffered a scratch. By war’s end, Battista’s ship took out five German destroyers. 

These days, the battle is time. Battista is 90 and doesn’t want family history to repeat itself.  His father fought in World War I, but left just one war photo. He left no stories. 

“I took (pictures) and I saved them all for my girls,” Battista said.

Though his journal is not quite complete, Battista is proud of what’s there. He’s proud of his service.He’s proud of those who died for their country. He’s also glad his story lives on.

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