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Alabama WWII veterans revisit Normandy for 80th anniversary of D-Day

As the 80th anniversary of the storming of Normandy on D-Day approaches, three North Alabamians who served in World War II flew back to the site that many American men gave their life to.

WHNT News 19 shared the story of Otis Branon, who expressed his gratitude for those present before embarking.

“I thank everyone here and bless everyone here for being here,” said Branon, an amphibious engineer in the 532nd Special Brigade. “It shows that we’re still Americans.”

“I did mostly maintenance on Higgins boats. We had three different types of boats: Higgins boats, crash boats and the LCMs.”

Arthur Hullett, who was stationed in Mannheim for over a year during the war, also spoke about his service.

“Things have changed, so I just love to go back and see some of the places I’ve traveled before,” Hullett said. “I did many jobs when I was in Germany. I have to admit some of them I’ve forgotten, but when they gave me a job to do, I tried to do it well.”

The third veteran visiting Normandy is Howard Polin who was trained as a meteorologist and briefed P-51 fighter pilots on D-Day regarding the weather over Normandy.

The organization, Honoring Veteran Legacies, led in organizing the trip.

“It’s fantastic to do this and see people who are new to the community, especially seeing that we’re doing this for the veterans,” said Elaine Oakes with the organization.

“Seeing people who are currently serving come out to support the older generations, I just think it’s a vital part of our community especially.”

A total of 4,414 Allied troops were killed on D-Day, including 2,501 Americans. Over 5,000 were wounded. In the following Battle of Normandy, 73,000 Allied forces were killed and 153,000 wounded.

Austen Shipley is a staff writer for Yellowhammer News. You can follow him on X @ShipleyAusten

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