Part of the job was to shoot down any plane “that flew beneath the clouds,” Berra said. but we all shot at the first plane below the clouds and we shot down one of our own planes. The pilot was mad as hell, and you could hear him swearing as he floated down in his parachute. I remember him shaking his fist and yelling, ‘If you bastards would shoot down as many of them as us the goddamn war would be over.'”
That was a relatively light moment, but it was the exception during Berra’s time in combat. One of his boat’s crew members was killed after going on shore in France, and he witnessed numerous other deaths — not to mention the damage he inflicted while manning the boat’s machine guns.
“And the way those waves were sending us up and down, we had to be careful we didn’t shoot each other.”
In the later hours, the boats circled back and exchanged more gunfire. In the days after the landing, they patrolled the coast, still being strafed by the enemy and returning fire. Berra remembers firing his “twin 50” into a German gun nest ensconced in a hotel on Utah Beach.
“I think I might have got a couple of them,” he said with the little laugh that punctuates much of what he says.