East Tennessee man survives D-Day

MARYVILLE, Tenn.(WVLT) -- Jim Estes is still turning heads. He's a Blount County Juvenile Court officer at 91 years old.

WILLIAMS: "You were a sergeant back then and a sergeant now; like women say, they love a man in uniform."

SERGEANT JIM ESTES: "Well, I can say that I've been married for about 45 years ... same woman."

Estes survived the landing on Utah Beach at the invasion of Normandy, June 6th 1944. He was one of 160,000 Allied Forces.

The total number of dead is still under debate. But Sergeant Estes was almost among them.

"We got off and like to have got drowned it was over our heads" said Estes. "And I had the bandoleer, the rifle and a life jacket and I got turned upside down. My helmet got full of water and I had to lose that or I would have drowned".

WILLIAMS: "You hit that beach and what was going on?

ESTES: "Oh gosh, it was a sight you never wanted to see again. There were bodies, washing and floating around.I didn't think I was going to get off the beach to tell you the truth. The good Lord was with me, a lot of my buddies didn't, some did."

Estes left the army as a Sergeant and now, some 70 years later, he carries the same rank within the Sheriff's Office.

WILLIAMS:"Do you think time heals the scars of this?

ESTES: "I think so, because some of the people where we landed came back to the courthouse several years ago and brought us some sand and invited us back to Normandy. I had a chance to visit the cemeteries, I wished I had."


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