Thursday, June 06, 2013

Remembering D-Day.

By:O’Ryan Johnson; the Boston Herald

One of the Bay State’s dwindling number of D-Day veterans recalls the Normandy Invasion — 69 years ago today — as a day when he and other young men “made a difference.”

“I’m proud of it. I have a lot of personal satisfaction. If it weren’t for the Rangers, they would have lost the beach,” said James Gabaree, an old Ranger who fought and nearly died in the largest armed invasion in history, known as Operation Overlord.
“We made a difference,” said Gabaree, 88, who landed at Omaha Beach with the 5th Ranger Battalion, part of an invasion force of 160,000 American, British and Canadian troops who established a foothold in Nazi-occupied western Europe.

“There is a lot of cynicism around today. I hope people remember that there were people like me and all the Rangers that I worked with, those of us who really believed in democracy. I didn’t have any education. America was good to me,” Gabaree said. “I hope people remember there were many men who sacrificed their lives and youths. We were young when we went over there, but we came back old men. It was a supreme sacrifice. I hope people remember, there were some of us willing to die for democracy, because we believed in it.”
Gabaree said his health isn’t what it used to be, and he’s not sure he’ll be here for the 70th anniversary. But he isn’t complaining.

“I didn’t think I’d ever celebrate my 20th birthday,” he said.

Gabaree said a number of weeks ago he got a letter from the U.S. Army that noted he is one of the few D-Day veterans from his unit still alive.

“There’s 10. That’s all that’s left. Ten names. There aren’t too many. I was one of the youngest ones,” he said. At age 19 he was shot twice and badly wounded in the daring raid on the German fortifications at Pont Du Hoc in the early hours of the battle. He was left for dead but later recovered enough to rejoin his unit and fought with the Rangers until the Battle of the Bulge. The French government awarded him the Legion of Honor and two Croix de Guerre.

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