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Honorary send-off held for 3 WWII veterans who will commemorate 80th anniversary of D-Day in France

In World
June 04, 2024

CHICAGO — An honorary send-off was held at Chicago’s O’Hare Aiport on Monday for a group of three men, all World War II veterans, who are headed to France to commemorate D-Day.

Inside O’Hare’s Terminal 1, a line of passengers and airport staff saluted three of the nation’s heroes as they prepared for the special journey back to the beach where many of their brothers lost their lives.

3 Chicagoland WWII veterans to commemorate 80th anniversary of D-Day in Normandy

“After 80 years, it’s beyond my dreams. This is unreal,” 99-year-old airborne veteran Sydney Levit said.

Levit was joined by 100-year-old Army Corporal John Hodges.

“I have mixed emotions. I’m so happy to be here, to remember all the brothers that were killed and maimed in the invasion and the battles to follow,” Hodges said.

Pharmacist’s Mate Second Class Anthony Malin, an Army medic who fought in the battle of Normandy 80 years ago, was also among the group.

“The tide was going in and our ship went in and we landed our trucks and tanks,” Malin said.

For Malin, this year’s trip will mark the 101-year-old veteran’s fifth visit back to the fateful beach

Malin said each time he visits, it brings back a wave of emotion.

Brothers who inspired ‘Saving Private Ryan’ honored in France

“You realize how bad it was when you walk the cemeteries in France,” Malin said. “You walk those cemeteries you look around and say ‘God almighty,’”

The men are flying with family members and are hosted by an all-veteran flight crew, from the pilots to flight attendants and even ramp workers. It was a send-off they’ll never forget.

“That people still have a place in their heart for the military what we do,” Hodges said.

Monday’s flight, which was organized by the employee-run group United4Veterans, left Chicago just after 6 p.m.

The 80th anniversary of D-Day is on Thursday, June 6

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