EL PASO, Texas– On June 6, 1944, the Allied forces in World War II launched the largest invasion in military history.
Over 156,000 Soldiers, Sailors, Marines and Airmen landed in Normandy to begin the end of the Axis powers who had ravaged Europe for years.
Here in the Borderland lives a soldier who fought with that invasion force, and he told ABC-7 his story.
At the time, Pvt. Robert Chisolm was stationed with the 508 Parachute Infantry Division out of the 82nd Airborne which is near Fayetteville, North Carolina.
On June 5th at around 10 p.m. while at North Witham in England, Chisolm was loaded into a C-47 flown by the U.S. Air Force headed into enemy territory.
A problem arose once they came within range of Normandy anti-aircraft guns.
“We were supposed to be going in at around 800′ when we started getting the flak coming in over the coast. The Air Force went up, I think over 2,600′ and we jumped,” said the WWII veteran.
That caused men to be scattered all over the countryside, cut off from their units.
“I dropped into a little field all by myself and I didn’t see anyone from my company,” the paratrooper recalled.
He would eventually link up with an American unit in Sainte Mere Eglise and see his first combat.
Chisolm would fight in the Battle of the Bulge and participate in Operation Market Garden, being injured three times during the war.
Receiving a commission along the way, Chisolm would also take on the Chinese in Korea, who he called “good fighters,” and the Vietcong while battling in Vietnam. He spoke of the frustration of not knowing who your enemy was while in the jungle.
“That was the bad situation about the Vietnam conflict. Having kids throwing grenades at you,” the airborne infantryman lamented.
Chisolm would spend 29 years in the U.S. Army and rise to the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.
A living time capsule, Chisolm hails from Dallas, and is also one of the first 325 soldiers in Army history to receive the Triple Combat Infantry Badge for having seen action in three separate wars.
In his spare time, he likes to hang out with his buddies at the El Paso Airborne Association. You can find them at https://www.bp82eptx.org/