Remembering D-Day; Local WWII Veteran Leon Tarter shares his experience arriving three days later

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BOWLING GREEN, Ky. (WBKO) -- June 6, 2019 is the 75th anniversary of D-Day, the invasion of Normandy, France that turned the tide of World War II.

Many people in Bowling Green and surrounding counties know the name Leon Tarter. The successful businessman and auctioneer continues to serve our community, but he's also served our country.

Tarter was only 18-years-old when he was drafted from Brownsville, Kentucky into World War II.

"I missed my mother and daddy and, oh I missed everything. I wanted to be home so bad," he said.

But there was a war to fight, and Tarter found himself in the middle of it.

"I was a Calvary Scout for the 79th infantry division. There were 160 boys in my company and when we made a big move, we were always in front," he said.

Tarter arrived on the beaches of Normandy just three days after D-Day.

"There was seven ships, big ships with the back doors, those big doors and they was loading wounded American soldiers. They weren't loading the ones that had been killed, they were just loading the ones that were wounded," he said.

"You just never seen nothing like this," he added.

"When I landed they had about 50-75 German soldiers that had been captured so they put them there, right where we got off and so if they came over that hill and shot us, they had to shoot their own prisoners and that stopped a whole lot of it," he explained.

75 years later, it's still emotional to talk about, even with Tarter leaving out many of the details.

"We was saying to each other, 'Lord we can't let that happen at home. We don't want our mothers and fathers to go through all this,'" he said.

Three quarters of a century later, this American hero has been asked to speak at Memorial Day Events. He's a humble, hardworking man, never taking it for granted that he made it home.

"Well I just want to say that the good Lord was holding my hand the whole time I was there. My mother prayed for me night and day. And I feel like without that, I'd never come home cause so many, many didn't," he said.

Today and every day, we thank Leon Tarter for his service and for sharing this piece of history with us.

"I've had a good life and I just love everybody and I just appreciate all the good things."

Mr. Tarter remains an active member of the community. He said he's been blessed with a wonderful family and he's thankful for the way his life has turned out after his homecoming.

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