D-Day veteran, 94, recalls parachuting into Normandy: ‘Only America could do this’ – Chicago Tribune

Fit and spry at the age of 94, Henry Langrehr strode into my house at Rock Island Arsenal, Ill., with all the purpose and vigor he must have exhibited as a teenager on June 6, 1944.

As the modern-day commander of the unit that issued Langrehr’s D-Day orders, I was humbled to meet this incredible veteran. We prayed before lunch, and my words were simple: “Thank God for heroes like this who blessed our nation with the freedoms we still enjoy.”

June 6 marks 75 years since brave Americans stormed the beaches of Normandy to free Europe from Nazi tyranny. Only a fraction of our nation’s Greatest Generation remain with us. Of the 16 million World War II veterans America once had, fewer than 500,000 are still alive; more than 300 die per day.

Langrehr’s story reads like something out of Hollywood. In fact, if you’ve ever watched the beloved D-Day biopic, “The Longest Day,” one scene depicts his terrifying parachute landing deep behind enemy lines.