There’s lots Earl Sorensen has forgotten.
He can’t recall which year he moved to Tucson, he has trouble remembering what he ate for breakfast, and on occasion he may take his nephew to be his son.
But 96-year-old World War II veteran remembers D-Day.
He remembers looking down on Northern France from a B-17 bomber on that charged day — June 6, 1944 — and seeing troops on the ground. He remembers the feeling of being part of history.
And for the parts he’s forgotten, Sorensen has his journal from the war.
His daughter, Sharon, read to him from that journal recently at Alterra Clare Bridge on Oracle Road, the Alzheimer’s and dementia community where he lives.
According to the journal, his plane took off at 2:40 a.m. on June 6 by the light of a full moon.
At 10,000 feet, it encountered trouble.
“Pearson (the pilot) dived to miss a plane, throwing Davis and I up to the roof of plane,” the journal read. “I put on my chute, and just after, he dived very hard this time, throwing us to the roof again.”
Sorensen, a gunner, broke a rib and cut his eye during that mission. He recalled wanting to jump out of the plane, but centrifugal force kept him pinned down.
“Thought that this was the end,” his journal reads, “and was scared more than any time in all my life.”
The plane bombed the beach at 6:03 a.m. and made it back to ground at 9:10 a.m. Fifty minutes later, a wounded Sorensen was out on another mission. He had only his own adrenaline to anesthetize him.
“You just kept going,” he said. “That’s all you could do.”
After D-Day, Sorensen flew two more missions over France before his service ended. On July 2, not quite a month after D-Day, he flew his 31st and last mission and turned his mind to his wife back in the United States.
Eager as he was to see her, he chose to travel home by sea.
“I said I wasn’t going to go back on a plane,” he said.