WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) will be among those gathered in Normandy, France on Friday to mark the 70th anniversary of the D-Day invasion — a pivotal turning point in World War II.
“They say it’s a moving experience you’ll never forget,” said Manchin who is joining ten other U.S. Senators on the trip.
“When you think about all the brave Americans that were determined to stop the Nazis and fascism and just the reign of terror that was going down, knowing that they were going to be like ducks in a barrel, being shot at, I can’t even imagine.”
On June 6, 1944, 160,000 Allied troops crossed the English Channel and landed along a 50-mile stretch of French coastline to fight Nazi Germany on the heavily fortified beaches of Normandy with support from more than 5,000 ships and 13,000 aircraft.
General Dwight D. Eisenhower called the operation “a crusade in which we will accept nothing less than full victory.”
More than 9,000 Allied soldiers were killed or wounded there.
“The count that I have is around 38 West Virginians that died on those beaches that day, Normandy, 70 years ago. We had many more that served honorably (in World War II). I’m going for all the veterans in West Virginia, everybody that served,” Manchin said.
“I’m honored to be there.”
The Allies did claim Normandy, opening up a second front in World War II and starting a march across Europe to defeat Adolf Hitler.
On Friday, thousands of WWII veterans, including hundreds from the United States, will attend the official commemoration of D-Day during a ceremony at Sword Beach — one of the main landing areas of the invasion.
The D-Day invasion, which was planned over more than a year, remains the largest seaborne military operation in history.