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Going Back: Faces of the men who fought at Normandy

May 24, 2019
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British D-Day veteran Leonard 'Ted' Emmings, who was a naval Coxswain serving on a small landing craft which landed 36 Canadians on Juno beach in France, poses for photographs backdropped by the map used to plan the Normandy D-Day landings at Southwick House near Portsmouth, England, May 9, 2019. Southwick House was the forward headquarters of the allied forces preparing for the invasion of Normandy in 1944, the nerve center of D-Day. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)
1 of 9
British D-Day veteran Leonard 'Ted' Emmings, who was a naval Coxswain serving on a small landing craft which landed 36 Canadians on Juno beach in France, poses for photographs backdropped by the map used to plan the Normandy D-Day landings at Southwick House near Portsmouth, England, May 9, 2019. Southwick House was the forward headquarters of the allied forces preparing for the invasion of Normandy in 1944, the nerve center of D-Day. (AP Photo/Matt Dunham)

The men who fought on D-Day, June 6, 1944, are now in their 90s or 100s, wrinkled and often moving with the help of a cane or wheelchair. Their hands often tremble and their voices shake as they labor to speak. But 75 years ago they were young men, many in their teens, preparing to go to war.

For those in the invasion force, they had months of rigorous training. They clambered down precarious rope ladders into landing craft or climbed into planes, parachutes strapped to their backs.

The determined German defenders were dug into pillboxes, trying to hold the high ground.

Scared? Of course. Many in the Allied forces had never seen combat. But they were also determined to do their jobs and perhaps more importantly not let down the man, the buddy, the friend fighting beside them.

The Associated Press captured images of D-Day veterans from the United States, Great Britain, Canada and Germany who are returning to Normandy for the 75th anniversary. For some. it will be their first time since they fought there. Others have made repeated pilgrimages to the sandy beaches. They will remember the choppy waters lapping at the ships, the flash of the tracer bullets, the roar of the artillery, and they’ll say a prayer for those who did not make it back.

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