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War is terrible: Soldier who helped lead Normandy invasion turns 100

DINWIDDIE COUNTY Va. -- Reflecting on a life well lived, Robert Doak’s memory remains sharp. The 99-year-old former infielder remembers games on a distant baseball field in his native Maryland, but his experiences on another field and in another uniform helped define this man’s life.

Retired Colonel Robert Doak served in the U.S. Army with distinction.

As an infantry officer, he led soldiers during the invasion of Normandy.

"There is nothing you can do except get off of your butt and go forward," Doak said. "I took control of the company at 10 o’clock at night and dark as hell. I didn’t know anybody."

Just three weeks after landing on August 9, 1944, bullets from a German machine gun slammed into Robert’s arm and leg.

"First words out of my mouth when I was shot were ‘Oh my God.’ But we had aid men there immediately," Doak said.

Severe injuries would end the 27-year-old man’s wartime experience in France.

"I was shot. You can see the hole there but you can’t see the hole in my ankle," Doak said. "I would say that I had a million dollar wound."

Just a few short years later, the executive officer found himself serving in combat again in Korea. During his stint Robert witnessed history. Mr. Doak watched the signing of the armistice ending the conflict.

"The Demilitarized Zone. I was there," Doak said. "Yup. I was right there in the building. Yup. Sure was. Good seat."

But as the winds of war blew across Asia again, Doak would be sent to Vietnam for 10 months to train soldiers in the early years of the fighting.

"Feels like yesterday," Doak said.

Reflecting on his 29 years of sacrifice he often thinks of his fellow soldiers.

"A lot of good guys," Doak said. "I would love to know what happened to them. But that I will never know."

Robert Doak counts his blessings that he survived.

"Wars are terrible. They should never take place," Doak said.

Colonel Robert Doak is one man who served in three wars. With a century of memories, ask Robert if he is looking forward to turning 100 in November and he is quick to answer.

"Yup. Sure I do," he said. "Yeah! It means I’m still alive."

Mr. Doak’s wife “Skippy” passed away in 2012. They had a son. After retiring from the military, Doak joined the Virginia Employment Commission where he served for 12 years as an office manager.

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Watch "I Have A Story" Fridays on CBS 6 News at 11 p.m. If you know of someone with an interesting story we should tell, email gmcquade@wtvr.com