Lantana, FL, vet recalls D-Day invasion
Roy Herter's laugh is infectious, even as he recalls one of the most devastating days in our military's history.
"We were the first wave, D-Day," he explains.
Herter was among the first to jump in the water off the shore of Normandy on D-Day.
Within minutes, Herter, who was 19-years-old, was laying on the beach with his leg blown off.
For hours, he nursed his wound and waited for help.
"Seven hours I had a good view of the invasion," he says.
Finally rescued, he was about to load onto a medical ship when his life was spared once again.
He explains that two German planes flew over and opened fire.
"I was the only survivor of forty," Herter explains.
Why him? It's a question he still ponders.
As the 86-year-old wheels through the Atria Senior Living community in Lantana he calls home, he says maybe it's to share this story he's so proud of.
He says,"Had we not succeeded there would be no democracy. There would be no freedom."
While his laugh is his trademark, 66-year-later, reading the letter from Dwight Eisenhower he received before heading to the beaches of Normandy, Herter is moved to tears.
He says, "The men who didn't come back. To many. A lot of them were my friends."
Friends, honored by all Americans on Veterans Day tomorrow and by this soldier every day.
Herter says, "People should realize how lucky they are to be alive and living in this country because a lot of men gave everything for this."
Herter, and the approximately 75 other veterans living in his community, will be honored in a day-long ceremony at Atria Senior Living on Thursday.
Roy Herter's story was also covered in the Palm Beach Post News on June 5, 2011. View that story at http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/d-day-veteran-lost-leg-but-not-spirit-1520494.html.