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Walter entered the United States Navy at age 17, his mother had to sign for him due to his age at the time. He signed up for the Navy September 8, 1943 and was discharged on January 12, 1946. He served in the Asiatic Pacific American Area and the European American Middle East. Walter earned a WWII victory Medal, which was given to all American soldiers that fought in that War. He was part of the Invasion of Normandy. Walter's duties were to take the soldiers in the landing boats to the shores of Normandy during the invasion. It is hard for him to talk about it due to the fact that many of the soldiers never got off the landing boats because of the heavy gun fire. Mr. Neel's rank was that of a Coxswain (he steered the landing boat).


The Allied navies had several roles in the invasion. Underwater demolition swimmers, "frogmen", swam ashore to destroy underwater obstacles to the landing craft. Minesweeping ships combed the offshore waters for anti-ship mines. A fleet of transports carried the invasion troops across the channels, while squadrons of landing craft, skippered by Navy coxswains took them the final distance to the beaches. Divisions of battleships, cruisers and destroyers fired per-landing bombardments to destroy German beach fortifications and "soften up" the enemy. Also, naval beach battalions went ashore under fire to take charge of logistical traffic on the beaches and to care for and evacuate the wounded.


Walter married when he was discharged from the Navy, to Rosary Ramano and had three children. He lost his wife to a brain aneurysm in February of 1963. Walter is 90 years old this year.



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