Seventy years after the largest amphibious landing in history, leaders of the U.S. and Europe gathered in Normandy to remember the turning point in World War II.
Medical issues prevented Harold Wiener from marking the occasion in France.
“It’s quite an emotional time, and this may be, very well, the last time I might have been able to go,” Wiener said. “It was a very big disappoint to me, not being able to be there.”
With most of the surviving servicemen in their 90s, the links to the past are fewer but not gone.
“There was no question. You could have been deaf and blind and knew that you were at an epic moment in history,” veteran Mead Kibbey said.
Both Wiener and Kibbey were among the 150,000 allied troops on 6,000 ships that took on Hitler’s Atlantic wall. Kibbey had come the night before and swept the beach for mines in the dark.
“When they woke up, there was just more ships than you’ve ever seen,” Kibbey said. “They just stretched to the horizon.”
The Americans went to Utah and Omaha beaches, while the British and Canadians tool Gold, Juno and Sword.
Tens of thousands more soldiers were delivered inland by gliders and planes.
The Americans suffered 3,000 casualties on Omaha the first day, but the Normandy battle lasted three months.
But the men who fought say failure was not an option.
Lance Klug contributed to this report.