Sunday marked the 60th anniversary of D-Day, when allied forces began the liberation of Europe during World War II. A Lynn Haven man was there as U.S. soldiers stormed the beaches of Normandy.
Every year and every decade this day is observed, but this year the anniversary of D-Day carries special significance, because for so many it will be their last. More than 150,000 allied soldiers took part in D-Day, striking a decisive blow against Hitler's forces.
Ted Vetland was one of 150 U.S. Army Airborne parachuters who landed on Utah beach the night of June 6, 1944.
"Somebody asked me if I was scared. I was always scared. Jumping is not a sensible thing to do. Another thing I was scared of was we depended on each other, and I was scared I wouldn't be able to do the job. I have never killed anything, and that bothered me," says Vetland.
But Vetland did the job, and did it well, receiving a Purple Heart and Bronze and Silver Star for his bravery in combat, but it's not his actions in combat that night that Vetland likes to remember.
"D-Day was supposed to happen on the 5th. The weather was so bad they cancelled it, but meanwhile they had given us a good steak dinner, so because it was postponed another night we got a good steak dinner that was the best part of the whole thing," says Vetland.
Vetland realized it might be the last dinner he shared with his comrades. Half of the men in his company were killed in action.
"I'm very proud of my outfit, the "A" Company of 506th Regiment. We're all crazy about each other. We all talk on phone. The only sad part is we've lost so many since World War 2," says Vetland.
About a 1,000 World War II veterans die each day. Vetland is one of only 11 from is company that are still alive. All 11 will reunite this October in Panama City Beach, one soldier coming from as far away as Germany to reminisce about the time they fought together.