Kilgore Doctor Fought in D-Day Invasion - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

6/4/04 - Kilgore

Kilgore Doctor Fought in D-Day Invasion

This weekend will mark the 60th anniversary of the Normandy Invasion.
On June 6th, 1944, over 4,000 Allied soldiers died.
One East Texan survived the battle and retured home to begin a new career.
At first glance, 81-year old Dr. Hilton Head's office is a normal chiropractor's office.
Look again. You'll see small a museum of his military past.
"We got involved when the Japaneses attacked Pearl Harbor," he said, "and one of their generals, one Japanese general, was hollerin' about, 'We won! We won!' and we said, 'No, you just woke up a sleeping giant.'"
"In the summer of 1942, at the age of 19, Hilton joined the fight.
He became a paratrooper in the 101st Airborne Division, serving for 37 months. There is one day in all that time he will never forget: June 6th, 1944.
"We took off from England late in the afternoon," he said. "We flew for four hours before we jumped. Anti-aircraft was popping around out there, big blue puffs of smoke, shrapnel coming through, and all we wanted was to get out of that airplane. We didn't care what was on the ground, just let us out of here."
"When we got to where they dropped us, I was told and I assume that it's the truth, that we jumped seven miles from where we were supposed to have jumped. We walked the rest of the night until we finally contacted the enemy, and had us a fire fight."
They fought all day and late that evening. Help arrived, but the battle was far from over.
"We lay on the ground and watched the bombers come over and bomb the pill boxes on the beach. When that was over, they came out of the bunkers, and it was a fight."
He and his company made their way to Utah beach. When they arrived the grim reality of the D-Day Invasion was waiting along the shores.
"It was carnage everywhere," he said. "They were cleaning them up as fast as they could but there were lots of dead bodies. You could just see where they got so far and went down."
Sixty years later, flipping through a scrapbook made for his division, Dr. Head reflects on those who never made it home from France.
"When we jumped in Normandy, it was 38 men in my platoon. Eleven of us came back."
Reluctantly, Dr. Head admits what he believes many soldiers often think.
"I'm sure they all felt it just, like I did: See a friend go down, and that hurts, you hate it, but at the same time, deep inside you say, 'God, I'm glad that wasn't me.' "
The doctor still has souvenirs from his time in Europe, a german officer's sword emblazoned with a swastika and a key he took from a desk in Adolph Hitler's home.
Everyday of his life, the doctor carries his memories of battle with him. Now, he wants future generations to learn from the sacrifices so many made that day in Normandy.
"I'm not trying to be a politician, but nobody is a winner in war. You might win a battle, but everybody loses in war."

Story by Maya Golden, mgolden@kltv.com

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