BANGOR – Hundreds of Mainers joined the military during World War II and many were serving at locations around the globe when the invasion of D-Day took place 75 years ago.
WVII/WFVX spoke to four living at Solstice Senior Living.
Mary Warden, who turns 90 in a couple of months, joined “Women Accepted for Volunteer Emergency Service,” known as the WAVES, a unit of the U.S. Naval Reserves.
She said what she remembers from the day Allied forces invaded Normandy was, “a lot of crying.”
“Everybody had to do something,” she said. “And if you didn’t you were a slacker.”
Caribou native Vernon Wark joined the Army shortly after he became of legal age to serve.
“I was 18 on the 15th of December and on the 29th I was in the service,” he said.
“It was expected of all of us. Everybody went,” Wark said. “The only thing that stopped them was a physical disability or something.”
Houlton native Medley Cotton followed in the footsteps of others in his family.
“I had a brother in there. He was in the Air Corps. I had a sister. She was a nurse,” Cotton said.
Carlton Miller’s father lost a leg in World War I, and his other brother joined the Air Force and is missing in action.
“He was a pilot in China,” Miller said. “He was shot down and he’s still missing in China to this day.”
Miller was in a submarine somewhere near the tip of Africa when D-Day broke out.
“I was really surprised at the amount, how much they had to fight, especially the paratroopers, who were sometimes dropped where they weren’t supposed to be,” he said.
Both Warden and Cotton were military office workers.
“I was saved. Do you know how I was saved to get through the service? I knew how to do shorthand,” said Cotton, who served in Europe.
Warden was stationed in Pittsburgh.
Cotton said with a smile that he and a friend took the shorthand class to meet girls. That smile that lit up his old eyes, made them water as he recalled one of his military duties.
“I handled the death certificates of all my classmates,” he recalled. “I was the only one left.”
“I was very, very lucky,” he added later.
Warden also followed in the footsteps of family who served, which included all of her brothers.
“I would have joined anyone, just to help out,” she said. “I would have done anything to help.”