James Counts part of Utah Beach landing during Normandy invasion

10:00 am | August 6, 2013

Elizabethton resident James Counts was one of thousands of Allied soldiers who landed on Utah Beach during the invasion Photo by Brandon Hicksof Normandy.

Counts, 92, joined the Army on Oct. 15, 1940, to serve as a medic. He said he signed up for a three-year enlistment, but was kept for five years after the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.

“When I volunteered I told them they could send me anywhere,” Counts said. “They decided I would work in medical and sent me to Walter Reed (National Military Medical Center) for training.”

2A Wall-Counts-A-3x8CCounts was stationed in several locations in the United States before being sent to Europe on July 17, 1943.

On Aug. 14, 1944, Counts was assigned to the SS Leopoldville to go to Utah Beach, France, for the Normandy invasion. He arrived at the beach on Aug. 17 and left the ship for a “duck,” a smaller landing craft that took the troops to the beach. The Normandy Invasion began on D-Day, June 6, 1944, and lasted until August 1944.

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