He thought about them and the unsung French heroes of the war when he received the French Legion of Honor last month in Atlanta.
“I thought about the 3,000 French spies and otherwise that were hidden among the towns and villages that we went to,” Storey told the Rome Lions Club on Tuesday. “I accepted it on behalf of them. We wouldn’t have gotten out of the water if it wasn’t for them.”
Storey, 90, was a first lieutenant when he landed as a replacement in Normandy after the initial wave on D-Day — June 6, 1944.
An Armuchee native, he went through the ROTC program at the University of Georgia and basic training at Ft. Benning before being assigned to Ft. Jackson, S.C.
When he got to Europe, he was quickly put with a battalion and survived his first week, making his place among the Allied troops.
“I knew the finest people and lost a whole lot of them of course,” Storey said.
One member of his battalion was a man who went by the name of Bug-eye Brown, the clown of the group who always had something funny to say, even in the harshest of conditions.
“The second time I cried in combat was when I found him dead,” Storey said.
Storey himself spent four months in a hospital in Salisbury, England, after being injured by shrapnel.
“We had guys that couldn’t handle it, and it was hard,” Storey said. “You would find them crying out in the woods sometimes. But you just keep going.”
A recipient of the Silver Star and the Purple Heart, Storey said his experiences in war and his love for charity work have combined to be a driving force for his life.
“I like to pay tribute to everybody,” he said. “Do what you can to help somebody, and no matter what faith you have, let it show.”
Click to see “Rome Remembers: World War II,” a multimedia documentary series with local veterans discussing their war stories.