World War II

The Greatest Generation
One in a series of tributes to members of “The Greatest Generation”
who served our country during World War II

Maximo Tijerina

By Bill Youngkin
Special to The Eagle

The beach they were headed toward was
Omaha Beach, the most heavily fortified of
Part 1
As we recognize and celebrate the 75th all the beaches. A beach that would cost over
Anniversary of the invasion of France in 2,400 American soldiers their lives.
“As we approached shore, the shells were
WWII, this is a repeat of the only story I have
in the water around us and you could
published from one of our local veterans that
made that initial landing on the beaches of hear the ping of machine guns on the sides of
the LST. We hit a sandbar out from the shore
When the movie Saving Private Ryan and the door went down. When it did, the
first opened, I attended the movie. One of guys in front were hit by fire from the German
the opening scenes was the landing on the machine guns. I knew I couldn’t go out the
beaches of Normandy. It was vivid, dramatic, front and live so I went over the side. I landed
bloody and so powerful that several ladies in in water over five feet deep and headed for
the audience left the theater. I thought, could shore as fast as I could go, which wasn’t very
it have been that terrible? Maximo Tijerina, Sr. fast.
of Bryan has answered that question.
“To make it to shore I had to wade through
“Saving Private Ryan was about 90-95 bodies. The water at the edge of the shore was
percent accurate. I know, because I was there.” turning red from all the blood. I made it about
Tijerina was born in Falls County on the 50 yards onto the shore where I was able to
family farm between Marlin and Rosebud near get into a hole created by a German 88. The
Wilson Store on May 29, 1922. Farming was hole was about five feet across but not deep
his life until at the age of 20 he received his enough.
draft notice to join the Army. He became the
“We needed to get organized but in all
fourth Tijerina brother to be drafted.
shooting and confusion it was hard to
“I was sent to MineralWells for basic training
guys were dying all around. We had
and then to Camp Hanns near San Berdino in
who didn’t carry rifles, only their
California. I was trained to be a radar operator
and forward observer with D Battery of the medical kits with red crosses on their helmets
413 Anti-Aircraft Battery. We were trained and arm bands. All that did was make them
to use radar to determine the range, altitude better targets. Both were killed trying to help
and elevation of enemy planes that might be the wounded.
“We knew we had to get off the beach or we
attacking and to defend with 90-mm antiaircraft guns that fired a 40 pound shell up to would all be killed. The German 88’s were the
worst. As a result of the 88’s there weren’t too
35,000 feet in the air.
“About 90 percent of the guys in D Battery many whole bodies on the beach.
were from Arkansas and the other 10 percent
“Little by little we pushed on in. Sometimes
from New Mexico. I was the only Texan in the two or three, then another three or four, until
Battery but made friends for the rest of my life. we got off the beach and began to push the
Of the 168 men in D Battery, only 19 of us are Germans back. After the landing it was
still living today.
shooting and killing, shooting and killing all
“We were shipped by train across country the way up the bluff.
to Ft. Dix, New Jersey with New York City our
“When the day was over and the shooting
point of embarkation. We were loaded on had about stopped, we were able to
the Queen Mary and fifteen days and nights reassemble as a unit. We found that about 30
later we landed in Liverpool, England. The trip percent of the guys from D Battery had been
across was rough. It was fifteen feet up and killed on the beach. I couldn’t believe that I
then fifteen feet down for fifteen days and had survived that day. I remember thinking
nights. We were ready to get on dry land.
“We did a lot of amphibious training and that if tomorrow is like today, there is no way
were then hauled near London for more I’m going to survive or survive for very long.”
Next Week - D-Day plus one and beyond.
training to get ready for an invasion. We knew
Tijerina’s name can be found on the
we were going into combat, we just didn’t
know where. Finally on the night of June 5, Brazos Valley Veteran’s Memorial. If you know
1944, we were loaded onto LSTs and headed of a World War II veteran whose story needs
across the English Channel. Still, not knowing to be told or would like to add someone’s
name to the Brazos Valley Veteran’s Memorial,
where we were headed.
“Around daylight on June 6th, 1944, we contact Bill Youngkin at (979) 776-1325. If you
could see the land through the fog. The want to have a name added to the memorial
Channel was full of LSTs like ours headed to the cost is $150 per name and the form can be
shore. It looked like a hive of bees approaching obtained at
For more stories of local Veterans in their own words, log on to Brazos Valley Voices
podcast at, hosted by Tom Turbiville

PO BOX 3000, BRYAN, TX 77805


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