MEDFORD, Ore. – Thursday marks the 75th anniversary of D-Day when allied forces landed at Normandy during World War II.
“So many people killed. I mean there were people dead lying there all over the place,” Rogue Valley veteran, Frank Hernandez said.
Many consider D-Day to be the opening of the western front to free Europe from the Nazi regime in World War II.
“That was the turning point in the war, and we knew once we had a foothold in Europe we knew we had won the war,” Rogue Valley veteran, Joe Butler said.
One Medford veteran doesn’t just remember this day in history, he lived it. Frank Hernandez is a purple heart veteran drafted at just 18. Now 93, storming the beaches of Normandy, France is still fresh on his mind.
“We went in the water almost to our waist and then into the beach like that and we started fighting,” Hernandez said.
Injured in battle, then sent back to the front lines. Hernandez isn’t just a hero, but also a prisoner of war.
“That German had the gun to my head and he was told to shoot me and he couldn’t do it because I was on my knees praying and he couldn’t pull the trigger,” Hernandez said.
In 1994, Frank was honored for his service by the French president during the 50th anniversary on the beaches of Normandy. Thousands are buried there.
“Grave, grave, grave all over from all of the soldiers that landed there from Normandy that was killed and I just wondered well I was wounded but here I am,” Hernandez said.
For other Rogue Valley World War II veterans, the sacrifice made on those French beaches isn’t forgotten.
“Celebrating this anniversary so much is something we should be doing because it was such an important day in the history of our whole country and the history of the whole world,” Butler said.
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