CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — Dominion Village in Chesapeake has lots of reasons to show its patriotism.
“It’s hard to talk about stuff from 70 something years ago,” said veteran Garland Lewis.
Though Garland Lewis isn’t quick to let you know about his place in history.
“I told them a while ago, if anybody asked me if I was a veteran, I was going to tell them no.”
It’s not that the 96-year-old isn’t proud of his service.
“Every once in a while I try and forget,” Lewis said. It just hard to think about what he saw 75 years ago today.
“We were all nervous before we hit that beach,” Lewis added.
Lewis was only 21, assigned to the 745th Tank Battalion. He never thought he’d became a part of the moment that changed the war.
“I remember the channel was real rough,” he said.
Lewis’ tank was dropped off at Normandy four hours after the first wave of soldiers.
“There were so many dead soldiers in the water and on the beach,” Lewis added. “Some of the tanks, you couldn’t do anything, but running right over them.”
Lewis’ tank made it off the beach and to safety. He was one of the lucky few.
“Yeah, I was very fortunate,” he said.
The memories of his service are now laid out on his bed at the retirement home. There is a Bronze and Silver Star, and a Purple Heart.
“There wasn’t a day you know that somebody in the outfit got hit or killed or lost a leg or something like that,” Lewis added. “You just wondered the next day if it would be you or not. Everybody was brave to get off and hit that beach. It is just something you never forget. You try to forget it, but you just don’t.”