Four East Texas veterans honored for role in D-Day - KLTV.com - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Four East Texas veterans honored for role in D-Day

D-Day vets honored. (Source: KLTV News staff) D-Day vets honored. (Source: KLTV News staff)
TYLER, TX (KLTV) -

Seventy years ago, and half-way around the world, 160,000 men landed on a fifty-mile stretch of French coastline to fight Nazi Germany.

More than 9,000 were killed or wounded so that 100,000 could continue fighting.

Five East Texans who were there were honored June 6, recognized for their bravery.

We attended the ceremony at the Watkins-Logan Texas State Veteran's Home in Tyler.

Sitting in the front row were the honored: Claude Grisham, Richard Carter, Robert Moore, Chuck Bice, and Homer Garrett.

Veteran Mike Ford of Bethel Baptist Church said what many of us feel.

"When I grew up, my dad was in the Pacific. You men were in Europe. You were my heroes," Ford said.

Tens of thousands took part in D-Day. It's highly unlikely any of the honored knew each other 70 years ago; highly unlikely, but possible. Homer Garrett and Chuck Bice sat next to each other at the ceremony, and met over seven decades ago when they went into the army.

"Goes to show, we get around," said Garrette.

"Of course we were separated companies; A Company, B Company, C Company; we hardly ever met, but we would see people from time to time in camp," Bice added.

The two were engineers. They were trained to build roads and bridges for men and equipment, but Homer never made the beach.

"Got the boat blown out from under me. It was blown in half. It killed 96 engineers that day," Homer said.

He says he lived because he slept in his truck on deck. Something told him not to go below, and the next day, most of those below didn't make it. He says the boat is still sticking up out of the water at Normandy Beach.

Chuck Bice went on to build the first Army bridge after D-Day, and fill in where needed.

They, along with the other veterans honored today, all feel the same about the ceremony, and the flag with all it represents.

"That's the greatest thing in the world, and the greatest flag in the world," Garrett beamed.

Regina Gilbreath, sister of H.T. Bryant who was killed in action on Normandy was also honored for her brother's sacrifice.

Copyright 2014 KLTV. All rights reserved.

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