OCEAN SPRINGS, MS (WLOX) - Seventy years after the Invasion of Normandy, a South Mississippi World War II veteran says he is still trying to get rid of all the ghosts. Back in 1944, a 22-year-old Adelchi Pilutti parachuted into France as bullets flew past him. Photographs take Pilutti back to when he was Army paratrooper for the 82nd Airborn.
On D-Day, he remembers seeing a plane explode right before he jumped from a C-47.
"It was like going into a, jumping into a bonfire. They're firing at you, with small arms mostly. And we had dropped down to 500 feet, so we didn't have much time in the air. It was quick. We jumped out. Probably about two seconds, three seconds to open up completely and another three or four seconds we were on the ground.
Once on the ground in France, Pilutti said the mission was to destroy the enemy's lines of communication and drive the Germans from nearby villages. He saw many of his fellow soldiers die during the fighting.
"I'm trying to get rid of all the ghosts and it's hard. You see your buddies fall for different reasons. Shot in the arm, maybe. Or they get hit and they're dead. It's something that you don't like to think about too much."
"I've been asked to go back to France to the D-Day Memorial and D-Day celebrations and all of that and I haven't been able to do that," said Adelchi. "Too many ghosts there for me. Even now when I hear Taps, it's hard for me to stay composed. I want to break out in tears."
Although Pilutti has received many honors for his service from the military, he said he cherishes when someone, after all these years, gives him a simple thank you.
"I had several people call me this morning. It makes me feel good. They thank me for it," Adelchi said. "I had three people call me and they were very sincere in how they appreciated what we had done. Not only what I had done, but they were thanking me for all of them that helped out with it."
Later in the war, Adelchi Pilutti was wounded while serving in Holland. He is a Purple Heart recipient.