D-Day Survivors From Ohio Head To France For 70th Anniversary Of Invasion
It's been 70 years, but for two survivors of the invasion that changed the course of World War II, memories remain fresh.
They were little more than kids when they landed in France and entered into a hell of blood and bullets that they couldn't imagine. It was D-Day, June 6, 1944.
Now, only a handful of survivors remain. They are living history, men who are heading back to celebrate and remember.
Among them are Don Jakeway of Johnstown and Herman Zerger of Woodsfield in Monroe County. During the invasion, Jakeway parachuted into a tree in Saint Mare Eglise.
"Of the 130 men in our company, 39 of us got back into England,” says Jakeway.
On July 4 of that year, his unit was ordered to take Hill 99 but the enemy was waiting. A machine gunner took out all the men in his unit. He was the only survivor.
"I had never fired my weapon, so I had one round in the chamber and eight in the clip. And I emptied it into that machine gun nest. And if you can believe it, it got deathly quiet,” remembers Jakeway.
Zerger was part of the invasion of southern France and fought until the following February. Then he was captured and shuffled through five prisoner of war camps.
"Nothing to eat but grass soup, the broth was even green,” said Zerger.
Now the two men are off to France to see, in peace, the land they battled through 70 years ago.
"I expect I've had 20 phone calls from France wanting to know if I'm going to be there, so I'll spend a lot of time just talking,” said Jakeway.
Mayor of Saint Mare Eglise is hosting the men at his home.
Jakeway has been invited to Friday's ceremony with dignitaries like President Obama and the Queen of England, but he plans to visit old sites and remember instead.