Veterans Return from Trip Retracing D-Day Battle

Columbia, SC (WLTX) - It was a scorching afternoon, nearly 100 degrees, but no sweat for the crowd waiting to welcome World War II veterans back from a trip to Normandy.

"This is the greatest generation ever. If they didn't do what they did then I probably wouldn't be here. It's the least I can do," said Scott Harris.

Scott Harris, a veteran himself, was one of dozens who lined the street to celebrate the end of a ten day trip to commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

With flags flying high and time ticking down, the stage coach carrying the heroes pulled into the parking lot of the Northeast Presbyterian Church in Columbia.

Friends, family and supporters cheered for the veterans as they exited the bus.

It was a scene reminiscent of the same homecoming 70 years ago, and a bit tough for some who lived it.

"I get a little emotional, it does get to me," said Floyd Hailey, a Navy veteran who served in World War II and made the trip to Normandy.

Hailey stormed the beaches on D-Day, evacuating casualties from both Omaha and Utah Beach.

Lucky for him, he didn't have to make the trip to Normandy alone.

"We've been friends since the first grade," said Hailey, flanked by his friend and fellow Navy Veteran, Ted Teagle. "We both joined the Navy at about the same time."

Hailey and Teagle joined the Navy at 15-years-old and still remain friends eight decades later.

Both say they received a hero's welcome in Normandy.

"Children, middle-aged, older people coming out and saying thank you for this, some of them said we'd be speaking Russian if you hadn't come and got us," Teagle said.

Now Hailey is fighting a different battle -- terminal cancer -- and nearly missed the trip because of it.

He says the ten day journey took his illness off his mind, instead thinking about the aging population of, "The Greatest Generation."

"I think about all the others that participated and I think about the number of us that are left," he said.


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