HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) - Four local veterans are back home in the Valley after an emotional visit to Normandy to commemorate the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
WAFF 48′s cameras were rolling as the men came home to Huntsville International Airport on Monday night. They were met by dozens of friends, family members and even complete strangers who wanted to show their respect.
Harold McMurran lives in New Market. After his experiences at Utah Beach, he moved on and was part of the vicious fighting in the Ardennes at the Battle of the Bulge. “This is the first time I’ve been back in 75 years. I went on Utah Beach and I found the draw in the sand dune there that I ran to for cover to protect myself.” McMurran got emotional as he recalled what the beach looked like on that day in 1944, and thought back to what it looked like last week. “To look out over the beach and not see all those ships, and hear all the noise, it’s something else.”
George Mills was also part of the Allied invasion of Normandy. He was later captured by the Germans and held prisoner for five months before the war ended. Like McMurran, this was his first time back to the beaches since that day, although he’d seen other parts of France since. He was most shocked by how well developed the area had become, with shops and homes. He was upset at first, but then thought about it a different way, saying he’s glad the French can move on while still honoring the past. “I was expecting it to look like it did 75 years ago, and it first kinda made me feel bad, but then I got talking to [another person on the trip], and he said ‘well it would be bad if it still looked like it did 75 years ago.’” Mills says he could hardly move around in France without someone stopping to thank him. “The people all over France, really humbled you." Mills told us. I’ve never seen so many people that come up and told you how much they appreciate you, and those people were no older than you [referring to WAFF 48 reporter Chris Joseph, in his 20′s] that was talking to us.”