By: Nick Kenney
WAFF 48 News reporter
63 years ago--turmoil ruled the world. Thousands died on D-Day, a sacrifice on a beach thousands of miles away.
Nearly 16 million served in World War II. Only 3-and-half million are still alive. It's estimated that between 1,200 and 1,500 died every day. So we sat down with one veteran to talk about D-Day, the memory still fresh.
"They opened up on us about 4:20. Just the sky, just the continual bombing," Roland Griner says.
He's retired Navy, a gunner aboard the USS Quincy sitting off the coast of France June 6th, 1944--D-Day.
"I was one of those fortunate ships in that we had some injured and we were hit, but I lost not a single shipmate," Griner says.
A survivor--lucky yet still in the middle of World War II. Months later, on a different ship, Griner lost a friend, an officer named Harry Devane. Griner escorted his buddy's body from Brazil back to Valdosta, Georgia. He dropped off one friend, but picked up another--Devane's sister Carolyn.
"We pulled into the train station and there was a pretty little lady standing there with a pretty hat on and I been in trouble ever since," Griner laughs.
Carolyn and Roland married, together 57 years until her death earlier this year, a lifetime Roland dates back to June 6th. Like most D-Day vets, Griner says he's proud--proud to have been a part, proud to have survived, humbled by the thousands who did not.
"What does June 6th mean to you?" a reporter asks. "I think it is one of the most sacred days this country has ever had."
A day that molded a man and his life. The bomb-streaked sky from 63 years ago still vivid.
WAFF 48 News is a sponsor of Honor Flight, sending veterans to the World War II Memorial in Washington D.C.