CHESAPEAKE, Va. — At Dominion Village at Chesapeake, 96-year-old Garland Lewis is reflecting on what he did exactly 75 years ago.
It’s tough for him to talk about because Lewis is a World War II veteran, who served on the frontline at the beaches of Normandy during D-Day.
Lewis was part of the Air National Guard when the entire company transitioned to the Army. When his platoon arrived at the beach, it was just hours after the invasion began.
“I think this is the first time I’ve come out and talked about it,” said Lewis. "Everybody was just telling us to get off the beach and go inland and all of us were under fire.”
Lewis said, “Not a day goes by that I don’t think about everyone.”
“I was in a tank at the time, when it got hit and all of the crew got killed but one, and he lost his leg and his right eye,” he said. “We had 87 men in the outfit I was in that lost their lives.”
To this day, Garland has an injury from his time in service, a piece of shrapnel in his groin. He told us his injury doesn’t compare to the sacrifice others made.
“It was a sad day for many of them, you know that lost their lives,” said Lewis.
When all was said and done, he was the first to visit home.
As a 21-year-old Staff Sergeant, he was awarded for his bravery, “that’s the Purple Heart.”
Even years after the traumatic moments, he still reflects on the battle daily.
“I try to forget it a lot of times. But it's something you can’t forget,” said Lewis.
It’s a story he wants others to remember too, because for these veterans their service lasts a lifetime.