Editor’s Note: On June 6, 1944, more than 160,000 Allied troops landed in France to take on Nazi Germany in the Battle of Normandy. Three veterans shared their D-Day memories with CNN ahead of the 75th anniversary. “Band of Brothers” actors Scott Grimes, Michael Cudlitz and Rick Gomez voice their stories in the videos below.

02:24 - Source: CNN
'Don't let me die like this,' D-Day vet begged

Paul Martinez was 16 when World War II broke out. He wanted to be in on the action, but telling the truth about his age would mean sitting on the sidelines for at least another year.

So Martinez walked into the Army recruiting station in San Antonio, Texas, with his older brother’s birthdate memorized. He learned paratroopers would definitely be in the fight, and they earned an extra $50 a month, so he signed up immediately. After two years of intense training (and nearly being discharged when the Army found out his real age) he became a member of the brand new 101st Airborne Division.

On June 6, Martinez became one of the youngest men to parachute into Normandy.

He nearly drowned when he landed in a flooded field, miles from his intended drop zone. On June 10, while trying to take the French city of Carentan, Martinez was shot in the face near his eye. He recovered and three months later was able to jump into Holland during Operation Market Garden. He also fought at Bastogne during the brutal Battle of the Bulge.

When the war ended Martinez headed back to Texas and eventually settled in Los Angeles where he lives today.

‘I saw torn-up bodies everywhere. I was 17.’

02:49 - Source: CNN
D-Day vet recounts 7 hours of pure hell

Jack Gutman joined the Navy at 17. He told his parents he would be safer, “… on a nice ship with a bed and three meals a day.”

He wasn’t assigned to a ship. Instead he trained to treat battlefield wounds and became a Navy Corpsman posted to a hospital in England. Soon after arriving, he was informed they would be training for Operation Overlord, the invasion of France.

On the morning of June 6, 1944, Gutman was supposed to go ashore on Utah Beach. As his landing craft waited to go in with its assigned wave, it drifted. The boat ended up landing on Omaha Beach.

Today Gutman remembers it as “seven hours of pure hell.”

After returning to England, Jack was ordered to Camp Pendleton, California, to train with the Marine Corps. On April 1, 1945, his unit invaded the island of Okinawa, a battle which presented its own unique horrors. Gutman is one of the very few who saw combat in both Europe and the Pacific. After the war, he settled in Southern California where he still lives with his wife of 71 years, Mary Jo.

‘Infantry soldiers have no time to mourn’

02:19 - Source: CNN
A fearful trek through dark woods on D-Day

In the very early hours of June 6, 1944, Tom Rice was in the back of a C-47 Skytrain over the English Channel. He was in the No. 1 seat, meaning he was the first out the door. As his plane broke through the clouds over Normandy all hell broke loose.

“Pillars of fire,” reached into the sky. The young pilots panicked, sped up and broke formation. The airplane was going much faster than the assigned speed the paratroopers needed to jump safely. When Rice went out the door the force of the wind pushed him back in the aircraft. With his arm stuck inside and body out, he slammed into the fuselage several times before breaking free.

He hit the ground hard but was uninjured. He gathered his gear, linked up with his men and, “… the war was on.” His war ended when he was shot four times in Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. After recovering from his wounds, Rice returned home to Coronado, California.

He wants to live to be 101. He’s only four years from his goal.

‘I slammed into the ground in a real hurry’

CNN’s Nick Scott contributed to this story.