One Veteran's Journey Back To Normandy

Bob Watson remembers D-Day, where he was a Navy sailor and a member of the 6th Beach Battalion.
Sixty-five years ago, Bob Watson was an 18-year-old Navy sailor, a member of the 6th Beach Battalion. In footage taken on D-Day, a little-known Naval unit that was one of the first to land at Omaha Beach.

"The death and destruction," Watson said. "There were bodies everywhere, body parts everywhere."

There were 363 sailors in the 6th Beach Battalion, trained to provide medical services, demolition and boat repair for the rest of the invading Army. A stripe across their helmets distinguished them from other troops.

Watson showed CBS News correspondent Sandra Hughes the helmet he wore.

"There was absolute and total chaos," Watson said.

The German Army had set obstacles for the invading troops. Watson's landing craft hit a mine offshore.

"It just disintegrated the front end of the landing craft," Watson said."It threw that landing craft - it went and threw it up in the air."

He survived and swam ashore, torn up but still able to help clear the area for incoming troops.

The troops were having such a tough time that allied commanders considered abandoning Omaha Beach. But by the end of the first day, small groups of soldiers had managed to scale the bluffs above the beach and gain a foothold.

"With all that went wrong, what went right?" Hughes asked.

"Good old American ingenuity," Watson said.

A few months later, Watson was sent to on leave to Southern California, spending his nights at the USO.

"They sent a bus to the high school to pick up junior and senior high school girls," said Watson. "And they bring them to the USO - and that's where I met my wife. And I've been dancing with her for 63 years."

Sixty-five years after that terrible battle, Watson returned to Normandy to honor his fellow sailors of the nearly forgotten 6th Beach Battalion.

"All those shipmates, somebody's got to tell their story," Watson said."It bothers me today, obviously, you can tell it always will."

At 83, Bob Watson knows this is likely his last trip to Normandy - and he wanted to say a proper good-bye.