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June 6, 1944, was 'longest day' for Triangle D-Day veterans

Posted June 5, 2014

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— About 75 D-Day veterans from the Triangle departed from Raleigh Thursday for the National D-Day Memorial in Bedford, Va., to commemorate Friday's 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II.

Although many moved slowly – some with canes, some in wheelchairs – their memories of the historic event that eventually liberated France from Nazi Germany come rapid-fire.

On June 6, 1944, Jack MacNaughton was a 19-year-old sailor watching other men his age – practically boys – fall around him.

"I can still see everything, basically, in my mind – things you never forget. It was the longest day of my life. The day I thought would never end," he said.

"(I) have a strange guilt feeling – why did I get through it? I saw death all around me. Those poor guys, a lot of them never set foot on that beach."

MacNaughton never thought he would make it home. So did many others.

"I was so dadgum scared – I didn't know what I was thinking – but it was dangerous," said Elton Price, also a sailor among the first wave of Allied troops to land in France.

Price and his two brothers all fought in World War II. They all came home, and together, they left Thursday for Virginia on a journey to remember the unforgettable.

MacNaughton kept the memories muted until he visited Normandy more than a half century later. His son Kevin, born in 1954, just returned.

"It was something I needed to experience and see, through his eyes, what he went through," Kevin MacNaughton said.

And now, father and son will commemorate that endless day.

The group will return to Raleigh Friday night, and the public is invited to welcome the veterans home with fanfare at Dorton Arena at the North Carolina State Fairgrounds, beginning at 6:30 p.m.

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  • "Screen Name-8/20" Jun 6, 2014

    I bet it was.
    God bless their brave hearts BIG!!!

  • Brian Jenkins Jun 6, 2014

    Thank you! Now if we can get the Democrat and Republican voters to stop voting to send todays kids to war to die.

  • Naysayer Jun 6, 2014

    Amazing!!

  • JEIAKC Jun 6, 2014

    We can never truly understand how much their generation has impacted the generations since. We can never truly honor or thank them enough. And to think, my grandparents and their friends downplayed their actions with a simple shrug and statement of, 'just doing my job'. My Papaw watched the first fifteen minutes of "Saving Private Ryan", stood up, said "Nice clean Hollywood portrayal" and left the room.

  • peace2u Jun 6, 2014

    Such brave men!! Thank you!! Enjoy this special day honoring you and your comrades!

  • bubbaOK Jun 6, 2014

    the Latins say "Bella Detesta Matribus"
    war is the horror of mothers
    couldn't have been truer as I was one year old then.

  • Forthe Newssite Jun 6, 2014
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    Were it not for these true heroes the world would be quite a different place I think.
    Thank you and your families for your sacrifices.

  • Jack Miller Jun 6, 2014
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    Thank you my heros. I cannot imagine the fear you felt and the horrors you saw.