Bluefield Daily Telegraph, Bluefield, WV

National and World

June 6, 2014

D-Day anniversary events around US and abroad

(Continued)

COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France —

Russian paratroopers joined the commemorations late Thursday, jumping down onto the town of Arromanches waving a Russian flag, in a reminder of their role fighting the Nazis on the eastern front in World War II and the millions of lives the Soviet Union lost. The Russians' participation comes despite tensions between the U.S. and Russia over Ukraine.

With many D-Day veterans now in their 90s, this year's anniversary has the added poignancy of being the last time that many of those who took part in the battle will be able to make the long journey back to Normandy and tell their stories.

"Three minutes after landing a mortar blew up next to me and I lost my K-rations," said Curtis Outen, 92, of Pageland, South Carolina. Outen, making his first return to Normandy since the war, related the loss of his military-issued meal packet as though it happened yesterday. "Then I cut my arm in the barbed wire entanglements. After that I was all right."

By midmorning hundreds of visitors walked among the cemetery's long rows of white crosses and stars of David. Schoolchildren and retirees, soldiers in uniform and veterans in wheelchairs quietly move from grave to grave, pausing to read the brief inscriptions that can only give hints of the lives laid to rest there:

Edward H. Gesner, Pvt 116 Inf, 29 Div, Massachussets, July 1 1944.

Richard Frank Geigner, PFC 298 Engr Combat Bn, Illinois, June 6, 1944.

Louis Carter Jr, Pvt 8 Inf 4 Div, New Jersey, July 26, 1944.

One young woman stood quietly in soft rain, hand over her heart, and tearfully placed a red rose at a tombstone which read "Here Rests in Honored Glory a Comrade in Arms Known But to God."

"I just wanted to pay tribute,"said Marissa Neitling, 30, of Lake Oswego, Oregon.

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