QUINCY, MASS. (WHDH) - Before thousands of men with the allied forces landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944, 19-year-old Richard Morrissey was part of a Navy crew clearing the water and beaches early before the invasion.
“The day itself I remember, the morning. I remember the sky. I remember the troops in the background. I can remember the start but I can’t remember the finish,” Morrisey said.
Now going on 95 and living in Quincy, the same place he grew up, Morrissey recalls what happened as he was returning from that mission.
“We must have hit a mine or someone hit us with something and our boat blew up, and I ended up in the water, then the beach with a life preserver,” Morrisey said.
He had no idea how he got there and didn’t have a scratch on him.
Morrisey is candid about the fact that his D-Day experience isn’t one he has ever liked talking about.
“My father told me, ‘Forget it. It happened in your life.’ I guess at first it bothered me, but he straightened me out. I prayed I forgot about it,” Morrisey said.
As for calling him a hero? He maintains his modesty.
“I joined the navy to do what I did and I did what I joined the navy for. Period,” he said.
Morrisey reserves the word hero for the men that came after him, the ones that stormed the beaches.
“Most of the sailors and soldiers on the beaches, they were young people,” he said.
Morrisey can’t point his finger on how that fateful day changed him or if it did at all, but he does acknowledge that day changed the course of history for this country and others.
He hopes future generations know that, and he offered some advice.
“The world is made for you to live in, and the way you live the way you present yourself is the way the world is gonna be,” he said.
In speaking with Morrissey, one thing he repeated a few times is that in the years after the war he lived a charmed life, unlike many others that served in World War II, he grew old. He’s a father, grandfather, and great grandfather.
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