by Barbara Dundon
Bill Scott is one lucky man. He fell through a skylight at age 8, was hit by a car a few years later and even broke his neck once.
But the story he tells with humility and awe is about surviving the Allied invasion of Normandy in June, 1944. He was drafted into the Army a year after Pearl Harbor, when he turned 18.
“That’s my Purple Heart up there in the corner,” Bill said, standing in front of what he calls the “trophy case,” a framed collection of memorabilia just inside the door of his apartment. “And this is my Bronze Star award.”
He pointed to a somewhat-mangled-looking silver watch among the other artifacts.
“My father bought me this wristwatch when I was in high school,” he said, “and I had it on during D Day. I wrapped it in some things to keep it from getting wet. When I got out of the ship and out of the water, it was still running.”
Inside Bill and his wife Marguerite’s two-bedroom apartment in Chestnut Hill Towers you can hear strains of Big Band music coming from their TV room. Bill learned to play the trumpet as a student at Abington High School and has a particular fondness for Harry James.
After he was drafted, the Army sent him to Camp Barkley, Tex., where he went through basic training and learned to be a medic. Although he could never stand the sight of blood as a kid, Bill wryly admits, “I got over that.”
At age 89, he remembers with exacting detail scenes from the landing and from the days that followed. Many of his stories are laced with humor, like the exchange between two of the sergeants in I Company – Shockley and Supply Sergeant Collins – minutes after landing on Omaha Beach:
Bill described the event.
“He said, ‘Sergeant Collins, my feet are so darned wet I can’t wear these shoes any more. Can I put in a requisition in for a new pair of shoes?’ Right on the beach. He was always a comedian.”
Listen to Bill Scott’s story below…