WWII veterans travel back to Normandy 75-years later

Sixteen World War II veterans are crossing the Atlantic on this Memorial Day traveling to Europe.

They’ll take part in activities in France to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day and the battle of Normandy.

“The bullets are all around me and no bullet found my name,” D-Day Survivor Frank DeVita said.

Nearly 75 years ago Frank Devita landed on Omaha Beach in Normandy, France on D-Day….and witnessed his comrades falling around him. 

“Why am I alive and they’re dead. Why? I don’t know. I had a guilty conscience my whole life,” DeVita said.

He was just 19 years old, today he’s 94. He only started talking about what he witnessed five years ago.

“They were 18, 19, 20 years old. They were too young to drink. Too young to vote, but they weren’t too young to die,” DeVita said. 

Ninety-nine year old Steve Melnikoff also survived the invasion that began the liberation of Western Europe from the Nazis. He was shot in the neck 11 days later but after treatment, returned to fight.

“I am a combat infantryman. I was there the whole time. I was there at the end of the war. I was in combat 335 days,” Melnikoff said. 

They’re part of a group of 16 WWII veterans sailing aboard the Queen Mary 2 this week.

The veterans are traveling from Brooklyn, New York to England on their seven-night transatlantic journey.

The men will head to Normandy to take part in events marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day on June 6th. And to honor the more than 400 thousand Americans who died in the war.​​​​​​​

“People say to me you’re a hero. I says I’m not a hero. Those guys in the grave. They’re my heroes. They gave their life for their country,” DeVita said.

They may not consider themselves heroes but the greatest generation fought to secure freedom for generations to come.

The ship’s operator, Cunard, had an important role during WWII. The liners Queen Mary and Queen Elizabeth transported more than 1 and a half million servicemen across the Atlantic.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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