Sioux Falls man recalls his D-Day air mission

Local News

SIOUX FALLS, SD (KELO) — As the world commemorates the 75th anniversary of D-Day,  a Sioux Falls man is reflecting on his own crew’s role during the Allied invasion of Europe which turned the tide of World War II.  Ken Salisbury didn’t storm the beaches of Normandy that historic day of June 6, 1944. Instead, his assignment was much higher up, but just as dangerous.

Salisbury was a staff sergeant with the Army Air Corps as allied forces mobilized for the D-Day invasion.  He flew supply missions into France in the hours and days after the first wave of troops fought their way onto the Normandy beaches.  Salisbury’s thoughts are on the freedoms gained and the friends lost, 75-years ago. 

Flying on board a C-47 cargo plane did not provide Ken Salisbury with a birds-eye view of D-Day.

“Being a radio operator, you can’t see out, you’re inside the airplane,” Salisbury said.

But Salisbury didn’t need to see the battles below to know he and his fellow crew members were on a historic, and dangerous, mission to defeat Nazi Germany.

“You don’t have time to be scared.  We were scared, but we were just kind of numb in our thinking, we had a job to do,” Salisbury said.

It was Salisbury’s crew’s job to fly troops and supplies into France following the D-Day invasion.

“And then we would drop these para-packs on them so they could get to them and that would be food and ammunition and medical supplies,” Salisbury said.

Many of the other crews never made it back alive.

“We lost a lot of men, a whole lot of men, on all of those flights,” Salisbury said.

Once, Salisbury and his crew were late in returning from a mission.  His air base back in England assumed he was dead.

“When we came back my bed roll had already been rolled up because they thought we were gone. And I had a couple of bottles in my foot locker and they drank all of that,” Salisbury said.

Such was the ever-present risk of paying the ultimate sacrifice during World War II.  Yet the modest Salisbury, now 96-years-old, doesn’t want to you to consider him a hero.

“We were just doing what we were told to do and we didn’t pay any attention to anything else,” Salisbury said.

Salisbury is a native of Sheridan, Wyoming, who moved to Sioux Falls with his wife back in 1960.

He’s never returned to Normandy since the war.

But he did take part in the very first Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C. to see the Word War II memorials.

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