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Local WWII veteran shares memories of D-Day

After 78 years, Vernon Brantley still remembers seeing the wreckage after the invasion of Normandy, France.

FOREST ACRES, S.C. — On June 6, 78 years ago, allied forces landed on the shores of Normandy, France to help free Northwest Europe from Nazi control, in a mission we now call D-Day.

According to the Citadel, there are only about 3,000 veterans in South Carolina still living to tell the tale of this day.

RELATED: Historians say D-Day was among the greatest military achievements ever

Vernon Brantley was just 19 years old when he enlisted in the Army to help the U.S. military do its part to free Europe.

"I was raised a red blooded, American boy, " Brantley said. "That meant you fight for what you believe in, and at that point, we knew things were starting to get bad."

He worked as a courier in the war to help transmit information from allies to generals in the United States. 

Brantley says he was tasked with delivering packages and supplies and transport things where they were needed.

"No one had maps so I was the contact person," he said. "I was making deliveries of packages, ammo, and transporting the wounded."

He had just entered the military when D-Day happened. He says he was in training back in the united states, and believed he would someday have to go fight in the Pacific.

"We were told that the American Army could beat anybody in the world, and we were just not prepared, we were using broom handles and things like that to train," Brantley recalled.

At the age of 97, says he still remembers the wreckage left behind, months after the storming of the beaches in Normandy.

"That was in June and we didn't get there until October. When you came up by the shore you could see the building collapsed and all the wreckage and it was all just symptoms of the war."

RELATED: 'We can't forget what happened': World War II veterans honored before D-Day anniversary

WWII ended in September of 1945, but it is something that Brantley has and says he will continue talking about for as long as he can. He believes it is important to reflect on times like D-day because there are fewer veterans from this war every day.

"We had a national convention in Charleston last year. There used to be 120 of us and now there are only eight, specifically from the Battle of The Bulge," Brantley explained.

According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, there are 240,000 WWII veterans still alive in the United States, and about 234 die every day. 

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