Freedom Fighters: Wayne Palmer - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Freedom Fighters: Wayne Palmer

EAST TEXAS (KLTV) -

At the age of 98, Wayne Palmer is the "go to" man for lawn care in his Lufkin neighborhood, but 70 plus years ago, it was motors of a different kind that claimed his attention.

"Amphibious Trucking Company."

Palmer was drafted in 1941, and trained in Amphibious craft, driving trucks and "ducks", a truck/boat combination that would go on both land and water.

"It would only go six miles per hour in the water, but get it out on land and it would go more."

On June 6, 1944, Palmer was his way to France's Normandy Beach for D-Day, the invasion of Northern France by the western Allies.

"The ship I was on, 6:30 in the morning, we were waiting and we picked up a magnetic mine and that blew out the propeller and the rudder on the ship that I was on."

By some miracle, the ship stayed afloat.

"It didn't make a hole in the ship. The ship didn't sink so we sat for three days and three nights waiting to go on into the beach."

Even though Palmer's ship was a sitting duck for German attacks, it stayed afloat, while other ships weren't so lucky.

"There were two transport ships further out from us that I saw go down that morning and they were loaded with soldiers."

When the trucks and ducks finally did make it to shore, they carried supplies from the beach to the front line and back. Palmer was headquartered on the beach for three months, with German attacks on the beach every night.

"Every night at the same time, you would hear, you could tell they were German planes from the sound of their motors."

By December, the American trucks and ducks were needed to supply General Patton's tanks, as they hurried to meet the enemy in Belgium at the Battle of the Bulge.

"We were hauling gas to him in trucks in five-gallon cans."

"We had 150 cans on each truck and we'd run up to a tank and hand them off, let them fill up their tanks and then we'd go back for another load of gas."

With allied victory finally secured at the Battle of the Bulge, Palmer's group continued to supply the front line well into Germany.

"We got within 50 miles of Berlin and that's when they stopped us and let the Russians come in and take Berlin.

At the age of 98, Wayne Palmer looks back on his service all those years ago with pride.

"I'm proud now that I was able to do it."

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