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John A. Ripple
War: World War II
Branch: US Army
Unit: 397 AAA Battalion
Birth Year: October 30, 1923
Place of Birth: Altoona, PA

SEE VIDEO BELOW

(Ann Arbor News - June 5, 2004 - Jo Collins Mathis) Ripple was a 20-year-old kid from Monroe who had never been out of the country, and rarely been in a boat or used a guon, when he was sent to participate in the greatest invasion in history...

As he headed for the beaches at Normandy on June 6, 1944, Ripple remembered what a general has just told them: This would be easy. By the end of the day, nearly 5,000 Americans lay dead in the surf and on the beaches.

"On the morning of D-Day, I saw more dead soldiers in an hour than most soldiers see in a year," said Ripple, 80, sitting in his ranch home near Pleasant Ridge Elementary School in Saline.

Ripple said he would have been killed as soon as he got off the landing craft, had he not bent over to help retrieve a machine gun that a fellow soldier had let slip into the water. That soldier was killed minutes later, as Ripple hurried ahead to the high-water mark.

"It's very hard to explain," said Ripple. "But once you smell the smoke and have the bullets flying over your head, all you want to do is, you want to go kill. They train you to kill or be killed."