(WLTX) - June 6th 1944: also known as D-Day, the largest sea invasion in history. British, American, and Canadian troops stormed Normandy, France in a carefully planned attack that took Hitler's forces by surprise.
"Confusion everywhere," said John Cummer, one of the U.S. veterans who landed on the beach back then. "Noise, not a single open place on the beach anywhere whatsoever, wreckage everywhere and men around there."
Lives were lost, destruction was rampant--but freedom was protected.
For Cummer, many memories may have also faded over the years, but the reason he and so many others willingly enlisted will never change.
"What was accomplished was absolutely necessary when you think of what Hitler and the others were doing and intending to do," he said. "You can't help but feel every life that was given in the war. Sorrowfully it was part of the price that had to be paid to get rid of that evil in the world"
Seventy years later, this spry 89-year-old will return to Normandy.
"The place that we are staying is immediately in the back of where I landed. So II'm hoping to get a chance, hopefully using my ships log to see the very place where we came in. It was on Gold Beach"
The non-profit Overlord 70 is taking 20 veterans from the Midlands to France for the anniversary--all expenses paid.
Jeanne Palyok has been organizing the trip.
"I had sort of an epiphany in the car one day, about a year and a half, two years ago and I realized it was the 70th anniversary of D-Day," she said. "Then I thought this is the last one that we'll be able to do because they'll be a 100 years old and even though they may be here, they won't be able to make the trip."
People from the community and businesses all pitched in to sponsor these heroes. They'll spend 10 days in France, visiting the battlegrounds, museums, and remembering the lives lost.
"When you have a memory, whether it's good or bad, and it affected your life, because this affected their life, and then you go back again and you see it, I think it does something for you," Palyok said.
"That's the kind of thing to be able to go back and say here it is again and to see it and to be reminded again of what they did for us," said Cummer.
Cummer will be making the trip with his grandson, who followed in his footsteps and joined the Navy.
If you'd like to donate, their website is www.overlord70.com.