Bloody Beaches: Soldier Survives Multiple Wounds

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Steven J. Poulos was 100 feet from shore in a landing craft during the gruesome Omaha beach invasion. They had planned to land, but the pilot of the craft feared the German mines and let the troops go under water.

“We all went down. Some stayed down and some came up,” Poulos said.

Poulos survived the land, only to spend two days pinned down on the beach. He received a Purple Heart with three clusters, the Bronze Medal, the Combat Infantry Badge, a Blue Ribbon Citation and two battle stars.

Poulos was 19 years old when he enlisted in the Army in 1943. After training for six months in the United States and six months in England, Scotland and Ireland, he was assigned as a machine gunner to the 2nd Infantry Division?part of the second wave in the D-Day landing on Omaha beach in Normandy.

Poulos recalls facing bad weather on June 5, 1944, when they headed to invade France.

“It was so bad, Eisenhower almost stopped the invasion,” he explained.

After the D-Day invasions, Poulos was reassigned to the 29th Division. He engaged in deadly fighting in France, where he was wounded five times by a machine gun?twice in the stomach, twice in the shoulder and once in the leg.

The 20-year-old Poulos returned from the war with a paralyzed arm. He worked while he spent three years in treatment before enrolling in Utah State University.

After three years, he transferred to the University of Utah, where he graduated in 1950 with business and sociology degrees.

With the war far behind him, Poulos opened his own business and married an opera singer who now sings for a church.

Poulos feels a personal connection to her work because he experienced what some consider to be a miracle: A bullet heading toward his chest was deflected by the gold cross he wore. Although it entered his neck, it missed his jugular vein but fractured his collarbone.