D-Day vet: thinking about the war is when 'you start digging up (memories) you shouldn’t'

D-Day vet: thinking about the war is when 'you start digging up (memories) you shouldn’t' »Play Video
Howard Johansen, 92, shows KATU's Emily Sinovic a photograph on the 70th anniversary of D-Day. He was among those who stormed the beaches of Normandy.

BRUSH PRAIRIE, Wash. - Seventy years ago Howard Johansen was in a small boat, storming the beaches of Normandy alongside thousands of allied forces.

Johansen, now 92 years old, lives in Brush Prairie, Washington and clearly remembers almost every moment from that day.

"You try not to think more about it than you have to because when you start thinking that’s when you start digging up everything you shouldn’t," Johansen told KATU. 

He was 22 years old June 6, 1944 and aboard a small boat within eyesight of Juno Beach.

"The first time we hit the shore was 7:30 in the morning."

Johansen said he saw many men die. Some drowned before reaching shore. He saw boats bombed and the bodies that surfaced.  He remembered one man vividly, his body tangled in the destroyed remains of the boat. 

"Seeing that ... God, that made us just want to die."

Talking about the war and that day keep him up at night, so he chooses to keep those memories to himself most days.  He is proud of his service with the Navy, but humility defines this veteran who said, "I’d say we had a job to do and that was it."