June 6, 2009. This was the date of the 65th anniversary of D-Day and A Paris Travel was privileged to enjoy the company of two Veterans from that battle during this time.
Arlie lived in Ohio and came with his Grandson, David. Arlie was part of the 554th MPEG (Military Police Escort Guard). While in France, he was part of the 3rd Army Division guarding prisoners and he landed on D-2 after the fight for it was over. He said that he remembered the sight of all of the dead bodies in the water and on the beach. He actually guarded the German prisoners. When he spoke of walking on Omaha Beach, he said that it reminded him of the beginning of the movie "Saving Private Ryan". Arlie spent two years in Europe and got within 40 miles of Berlin.
It was an honor to meet this enthusiastic 91 years young Veteran and to witness the emotions revisiting Omaha Beach. To know him is a privilege.
Next, we had the distinct pleasure of spending several days with George, another Veteran hero from WWII. He had not been back to Normandy since D-Day, so it had been 65 years. George lives in Massachusetts and during WWII, he served as a petty officer with the U.S. Naval Amphibious Force in gunfire support. His ship, US LCG(L) 687 landing craft gun (large) was built in Scotland specifically for the D-Day invasion. In the European theatre, he served in Scotland, England (including the ill-fated invasion rehearsal at Slapton Sands), and France. He was at Omaha Beach on D-Day.
George has earned the Liberated France Medal and a "Thank-You-America" certificate issued by the French government. What an honor to know George and to share some Normandy time with him.
During the Bayeux parade of old military vehicles on June 7, we made friends with Fred and his son Tankred, German citizens visiting Normandy for the D-Day events. Fred works for ITS, International Tracing Service, that “serves victims of Nazi persecutions and their families by documenting their fate through the archives it manages.”
Tankred, his teenage son, accompanied him. He was dressed in vintage US Army attire. The picture shows our US Veteran George beside Fred and his son. Interestingly enough, Fred said that his father had been in the German Army, was captured, and was a POW in the US after the war. Fred wrote referring to his father, “He always spoke well about his time as a POW in New Orleans. He was fascinated with the USA, perhaps he leaves a dictatorship in the year 1944 and wake up in democracy”.
To describe the honor and privilege of sharing Normandy with Veterans who served our country during WWII is beyond all words. Our greatest thanks to Arlie and George, two heroes among many heroes.