, 79, is among 100 U.S. military veterans the French have brought to the country to commemorate the anniversary.
"That will be a thrill," Gallagher
said at his
house Saturday, days before leaving.
...Gallagher, who moved to Sidney after retiring from IBM, was a member of the Navy's 6th Naval Beach Battalion that landed early in the invasion.As a communications officer, he helped establish links with the invasion fleet, he said.
received a letter from the V.A. dated March 26, confirming his
was able to take a guest, and he
is traveling with his
stepson Glen Peterson.
On Sunday - June 6 - Gallagher
will go by train to Normandy for celebrations commemorating the event, according to the French itinerary.
"I wouldn't have spent that kind of money to go on my own," he
"I thought it was an honor to be picked.I thought it would be nice to accept and see what it looks like today," he
said about his
return to France.
Of the events 60 years ago, he
said, "There were about 330 of us who landed.Today there are few left."
"I can't say how many died" during the D-Day landing, Gallagher
doesn't remember much after he
was hit with shrapnel from a German artillery shell and taken for dead, he
was seriously wounded and lost an eye.
Two friends were killed from the same explosion, he
Besides meeting the two presidents, Gallagher
said one highlight of the trip will be looking for friends who are buried in Saint Laurent Cemetery.
participation in D-Day, "I think anybody who was there would downplay their role.They just never talk about it," he
said when asked about the landing.
"Those who do were probably never really in combat," he
Looking back on his
role in the invasion, Gallagher
said, "We were all volunteers in our outfit.It was a job.We were all young then."
Serving in the military, he
said, was an adventure that allowed him to travel all over the world.Gallagher
never thought about the danger, and instead thought, "They will never get me.We were young.
"I thought we were fighting the war to end wars," he
said."But it didn't work out like that." Gallagher
will share his
experience traveling to France on the 60th anniversary of D-Day at the September reunion of the battalion in Peoria, Ill.But this will be the last year the group will hold regular get-togethers, he