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WWII paratrooper, 90, shares memories of combat jumps

WWII paratrooper, 90, shares memories of combat jumps

COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. - His military unit went down in history and he's the only one left to tell the story.

Maj. Duke Boswell is the only surviving member of four combat jumps in WWII, including the invasions of Sicily, Italy, Normandy and Holland.  He was assigned to Company G, 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 82nd Airborne Division.

Now at 90 years old, Boswell shared his memories with KRDO NewsChannel 13.  

He said he was so eager to join the military as a teenager, that he forged documents and enlisted when he was 16 years old.

"I guess I was just looking for something different," Boswell said.

Of all the combat jumps, Boswell says D-Day was the most memorable.

"The ocean was just covered with ships as far as I could see either way," he said.  "The sky was full of planes.  I wasn't fearful. We had made two combat jumps before. I knew my chute worked."

Boswell recounted watching his fellow soldiers get shot after landing in Saint-Mere-Eglise.  Some landed in a burning building.  Others were shot by German soldiers once they landed.

"Some of our men landed in the trees and were hung up in the trees and were shot there before they could get out," he said.  "When you jump, you jump with several thousand men, but when you hit the ground, you're all by yourself."

When the war started there were 146 men in Boswell's company.  By the end of the war there were 13 left.  Boswell attributes his fortune to luck and God watching over him.

"I was lucky to do what I did and survive," he said.

Today, he's the only one in his company still alive.  After being seriously wounded in the Korean War, he eventually retired.  He's been honored with the Purple Heart, Bronze Star and French Legion of Honour among dozens of other decorations.  But he insists he's not a hero.

"I did my job," he said.  "I'd say the heroes are the ones we left over there.  People who could have been brilliant scientists, doctors, musicians are gone."

A nonprofit group called From Mists of Time is working to capture and preserve Boswell's memories.  The filmmakers are working on a documentary called "Four Jumps For Freedom: The Duke Boswell Story."  They plan to take Boswell back to each of the jump locations and document the visits.  To find out more, click here.

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