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Friday, June 6, 2014

D-Day - The 70th Anniversary & A Picture Surprise!


Seventy years ago today, the Allied invasion of mainland Europe began - and D-Day became an instant part of our global history.
From the 156,000 men who stormed the beaches or parachuted into enemy territory, I have the honor of calling one D-Day veteran a friend.
U.S. Army Command Sgt. Major (Ret.) William "Bill" Ryan (2006)

U.S. Army Command Sergeant Major (Ret.) William “Bill” Ryan is a sprightly 89, but he lives in Melbourne, Fla., and I'm out here, so I hadn't heard much from Bill this past year.

I was a little worried...

...and then, yesterday, I saw this picture (#17 of 31) on a Yahoo! slideshow...

(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)
From Yahoo!:
Command Sgt Major Retired Bill Ryan, who landed at Omaha Beach 70 years ago tomorrow, kisses a young French boy at a ceremony honoring the First Infantry Division above Omaha Beach June 5, 2014 in Colleville-sur-Mer, France. 

My first reaction?
Talk about making my day... I punched the air in absolute and pure delight.
"You bloody well did it, Bill! You made it to the 70th anniversary!!"

(Bill's traveled back in Normandy many times, but had told me on numerous occasions that the 70th would be the last big "hurrah" for many of the remaining WWII veterans.)

PS: On D-Day last year, I shared Bill's story. If interested, click HERE.

PPS: Want to hear from Bill himself? Check out this 2-min YouTube video (from 2012.)

Cheers, Bill.
A sincere and heartfelt thanks to you, and all your mates who made it home.
Like so many others, I hold dear the memories of all those who paid the ultimate price.

We will never forget. 


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

That's awesome he made it! Let's pray he makes it to the next decade marker.

~Sia McKye~ said...

He's very articulate. I think serving in the arm forces change many and for the good--the discipline and thinking team rather than individuals. But being in the midst of war changes people beyond what those who haven't been can imagine. It's an emotional thing that never leaves you.

Sia McKye Over Coffee

Anonymous said...

Yay, Bill!

Red Shoes said...

Those men like Bill are really something special... we many never see there kind again in such numbers.

I am SO pleased to see he made it back for the 70th anniversary!!


Annalisa Crawford said...

I've been watching the live footage of the commemorations this morning. And yes, sadly, for many this is the last one they plan to attend. The ceremonies have been very moving.

Author R. Mac Wheeler said...

Thank you for posting the link to the video. It is ... I don't have the right word...but amazing to see the men who fought in the horrendous war (not that any war isn't individually horror filled)

Salutes to those brave men!

Suzi said...

Years ago I got to go to Omaha Beach and the American Cemetery. It is so amazing... sad... inspiring.

My son is interested in learning about wars, and WW2 seems to grab his attention most. But it's hard to explain what it feels like to stand there and look over the crosses and imagine what the beach looked like. And to think about what those men accomplished. And all that died.

Someday I hope he can go there.

Susan Gourley/Kelley said...

What a thrill to see your friend making the anniversary. My father and uncle are gone along with so many veterans of that war. My uncle was there on D-Day but my dad fought in the Pacific.

Sheena-kay Graham said...

Her survived. Such a sad day.

Melissa said...

Wow. I'm so glad you posted about him again! It's great that he made to to #70. :)

Deanie Humphrys-Dunne said...

Lovely story, Mark, so glad he's okay. Happy weekend.

CWMartin said...

Loved the story- sent a link to a friend I know will love it. If you see him again, send him a hug from one man in Ft Wayne who will never forget.

Nicole said...

Yes! I join you in that fist pump! That's an incredible milestone for Bill and his fellow vets. We owe them so much. So much!

Hilary Melton-Butcher said...

Hi Mark - I remember your post on Bill - and just seeing all the veterans who made it across to the commemoration services is quite extraordinary .. I watched a great deal ... very very moving ..

And we owe them our freedom today - my father was there ..

Wonderful post .. Hilary

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