90, Royal Oak
Albert Seychel landed in the “Easy Red” sector of Omaha Beach at 7:30 a.m. on D-Day while serving with the 6th Naval Beach Battalion. Carrying a hand-powered radio generator for ship-to-shore communications, he was the fifth in line to jump from one of two ramps of a U.S. Coast Guard landing craft.
“The Coast Guard had a guy that would run down the ramp. He would have a great big anchor that he was carrying,” Seychel said. “He would run forward as far as he could and would bury the anchor in the sand. The reason for that was so the ship wouldn’t drift back. But they killed him.”
Seychel said the sailor in front of him was shot as he left the ramp and jumped into surf 7-8 feet deep. He spent a few moments making his way to shore with the wounded man.
Later that morning, he was wounded, himself, when a blast from a German 88mm gun exploded on the beach near where he and seven members of his group were lying shoulder-to-shoulder in the sand.
“Those guys could put an 88 in your hip pocket,” Seychel said.
He said shrapnel went through a 17-year-old Navy corpsman in front of them and struck the man next to him. He was then hit in the back by a fragment after an artillery blast blew his buddy and their team captain out of a hole on the beach and disemboweled them.
The shrapnel hit Seychel in the back and cut him. Fortunately, it also struck his gun belt, likely saving his life. He said he never found the belt that also carried a knife his uncle gave him before he went off to war.
“I don’t know if I did anything heroic,” he said near the end of a two-hour interview at his home in Royal Oak.
After he left Normandy, Seychel was sent to the Pacific, where he took part in two more landings.