Shiner native recalls fighting on Omaha Beach
Laddie Janda had never seen combat until he waded onto Omaha Beach.
The day he boarded the boat, a medic with E Company of the 116th Regiment, he was handed a letter from Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower, the same letter that every soldier was meant to receive.
If he read it or not, it didn't make much of an impression.
He and the other men were focused on not being sick as their boat crossed the English Channel. There were thousands of boats of all shapes and sizes on the water - the largest armada in history.
Their boat got stuck. Janda, a 19-year-old from Shiner who had just left the cotton fields, found himself trying to jump from his boat to a smaller vessel so they could make it ashore while the two boats slapped together and the air was filled with the sounds of battle.
He made the jump and when they were close enough, he started wading through the knee-deep water toward the shore.
"I slipped on the rocks, but I got up pretty fast," he remembers.
He scrambled up to the sea wall for cover. As a medic, he was there to help the wounded men, and he tried to tend to men on the beach.
Janda's war didn't last long. After five weeks, he heard a shell explode. Shrapnel had cut into his body, lodging in his lung.
He was sent to a hospital in England, and when the Queen Mother visited, he was told to try to lay at attention if he couldn't sit up or stand. He recovered and came home and studied business. He had no intention of picking cotton again.
Now he doesn't think much about the war.
"It was just something that happened," he said. "I survived though. By the grace of God, I guess."