Yogi Berra passed away today at 90 years old. He was and will always be a beloved American icon – Hall of Fame catcher for the New York Yankees and master of quotable quotes like “it ain’t over ’til it’s over” and “when you come to a fork in the road, take it.”
Not as well known about Berra is that he served in the U.S. Navy during World War II and was part of the D-Day Invasion on June 6, 1944.
Berra was only 18 when he showed up at Little Creek Naval Base in Virginia for training as a landing craft crewman. D-Day was only a few months away, but he had little idea of what his role would be at that time.
“Being a young guy, you didn’t think nothing of it until you got in it,” Berra told MSNBC in 2004. “And so we went off 300 yards off beach. We protect the troops. If they ran into any trouble, we would fire the rockets over. We had a lead boat that would fire one rocket. If it hits the beach, then everybody opens up. We could fire one rocket if we wanted to, or we could fire off 24 or them, 12 on each side. We stretched out 50 yards apart. And that was the invasion.”
Years later Berra admitted being haunted by visions of the drowned soldiers he fished out of the water. “Later on when it sinks in, you get scared,” he said.
“I sit and I thank the good lord I was in the Navy,” Berra said. “We ate good, clean clothes, clean bed. You see some of these Army men, what they went through, that’s the ones I felt for.”