JACKSONVILLE, Fla – Friday marks a historic anniversary for our country , 70 years since D-Day, when the U.S.-led allied armada crossed the English Channel to launch an attack that would turn the tide of World War II and defeat Germany.
One local 90-year-old man remembers the day firsthand.
William Brewer is a Navy veteran who served during D-Day. His brother Forrest also served and is one of the thousands of men who lost their life 70 years ago.
William Brewer will spend his day visiting the grave of his brother Forrest, or Lefty, as he and most others called him.
Lefty played baseball at Robert E. Lee High School and was a professional baseball player heading for the Washington Senators -- today the Washington Nationals. But Lefty was drafted into the military, serving for our country on D-Day and giving the ultimate sacrifice.
"He joined the paratroopers because it paid them more money and they trained at Camp Blanding and Fort Benning and McCall in North Carolina before they were shipped to Ireland then England awaiting D-Day," William Brewer said.
Lefty joined the military in March 1941, eventually becoming a paratrooper.
"About the day or two before D-Day they had a commanding officer named Jim Gavin who thought it would be a good idea if the paratroopers played in a baseball game," he said.
Brewer said Lefty showed he still had it; his team won 18 to nothing. Two days later, the largest military operation in world history took place, killing or wounding more than 9,000 American servicemen.
Brewer says when Lefty and his more than 20,000 fellow paratroopers jumped out C-47s to Omaha Beach in Normandy on June 6th 1944, the Germans flooded the area.
They competed their mission, but some, including Lefty, didn't make it.
"He and Lefty were side-by-side trying to run to the Metaric River, and he got to the river and machine guns got my brother from behind and he fell face down in the Metaric River," Brewer said.
He said among the thousands of paratroopers, they all stuck together, and he will never forget what is brother and so many others did for our country.
"If you were a paratrooper you were a paratrooper wherever they happened to be they united with whoever they could find as long as they were another American paratrooper," Brewer said.
Although Brewer is spending the anniversary remembering his brother and the other men who lost their lives that day, he is a military hero as well, having served during the war.