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Bob Noody (second from right), a bazooka man from Fox Company, 101st Airborne, on the night of June 5, 1944. Waiting for the C-47 to take off on the eve of D-Day.   Photo: <a href="https://www.flickr.com/photos/brevort/6035219135/">Doug Barber</a>, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.
Bob Noody (second from right), a bazooka man from Fox Company, 101st Airborne, on the night of June 5, 1944. Waiting for the C-47 to take off on the eve of D-Day. Photo: Doug Barber, Creative Commons, some rights reserved.

Star Lake D-Day vet remembers: "scared stiff"

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This Friday marks the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion of Normandy during World War Two. Now a dwindling band of brothers, D-Day veterans -- in their late 80's and 90's -- will pause to remember the day with solemn reflection.

Star Lake veteran Robert Noody was a paratrooper on the eve of the D-Day invasion. He recently returned to France and was awarded the Legion of Honour, France's highest medal for military conduct. Noody is also the recipient of two Bronze Stars, two Purple Hearts, and is featured in an iconic D-Day photograph. Todd Moe spoke with him just before his return trip to England and northern France. Noody, 90, shared memories of the night the photo was taken, parachuting into France and tributes to his fallen comrades.

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Reported by

Todd Moe
Morning Host and Producer

Story location

Bob Noody in the study at his Star Lake home.  He holds a copy of the Air Force magazine from 1944 that used his photo on the cover.  Photo: Todd Moe
Bob Noody in the study at his Star Lake home. He holds a copy of the Air Force magazine from 1944 that used his photo on the cover. Photo: Todd Moe
Robert Noody: All of those guys are gone now. They have died.

I was really loaded down there, if you look at that picture, I had a bazooka and I had a leg bag. I had all of the equipment that everybody else had — I must have weighed 300 pounds! — And the parachute and the reserves in the front seat. You know, I don't know why we even wore that, you know we jumped at about 400 feet, so if the other one didn't open you weren't going to have a standing chance at opening that one.

Todd Moe: Do you remember that photo? Do you remember when that photo was taken?

RN: Oh sure. And that really, that photograph has become number two. Isn't that something? And all because I was sitting in the right place. Maybe that is what enticed the guy to take the picture—because of all of the equipment I had. Those leg bags, they were… fifty pounds maybe?

TM: What do you remember about that day? Do you remember jumping out the plane?

RN: Oh yeah, it was... just like fireworks….You know I felt pretty damn good that we were low enough. And you know, the planes were going all over the place. I think we were supposed to land somewhere near Carentan and we landed probably, I don't know, 15 to 20 miles away. There was quite a bit of firefight; and the guys who landed right in—I landed in the mayor's backyard.

The August, 1944 issue of "Air Force" magazine with Bob Noody on the cover.
The August, 1944 issue of "Air Force" magazine with Bob Noody on the cover.
TM: And you have two bronze stars?

RN: Yes. I hate to say that, but I think we got one for saving this guy [points to photo]. He got shot in the throat and lost his voice box. Never talked again. Also, if you were in all three campaigns: Normandy, Holland and Bastogne, the whole unit got one.

TM: So you were in all three campaigns. And a purple heart?

RN: Yes. I got two of those also. Most of the other guys in our platoon landed right in there, a couple of them were captured, and one or I guess two of them were killed there.

Bob Noody reflected in a framed collection of medals, badges and uniform patches from World War II.  Photo: Todd Moe
Bob Noody reflected in a framed collection of medals, badges and uniform patches from World War II. Photo: Todd Moe
TM: So the Fighting Fox company, was that the Band of Brothers?

RN: No. We were right alongside of them. And I've often said, everything we did good, they took credit for! But, that's not true, they deserve credit for everything they did. I think the people that secured the beaches at Omaha, Utah, I think they were so instrumental to what happened to the Germans. Because the Germans had people coming at them from there, and we were spread all over. They must have been really confused. And thank God they were!

TM: People coming from the beach, from the air.

RN: And because we weren't oriented as far as we were supposed to be, we were all over the place and they had no idea. We did have a lot of people drown in the water, I don't know how they did that, but they flooded the fields, and of course there was of all of that equipment.

TM: What does the French Legion of Honor Award [that you recently received] mean to you?

RN: Everything. Everything I do is on behalf of those people in the 101st…all on behalf of them. The same with the award.

TM: So, when I see that photo of you, Bob, your eyes are very expressive. That must have been quite a moment in your life, to be on that plane, loaded down with all of that stuff, and the anticipation…

RN: [Pulls out photo with hand written caption] It says, "Scared Stiff"

TM: Were you?

RN: Yes.

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