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70th D-Day Anniversary: A Local Vet's Story
CEDAR RAPIDS, IA (CBS2/FOX28)-Today marks a huge moment in world history.
It was 70 years ago that 160,000 allied troops invaded the beaches at Normandy, turning the tide on World War II.
Cedar Rapids D-Day Veteran Dean Luther had no idea what he was getting into.
"And it's probably best that you don't. It's adventure," he said.
A challenge that he said any 19-year-old would grab onto.
He talked about how enlisting was exciting and "everyone was doing it."
But this time, the adventure was something he knew nothing about at the time.
He just did what he was told, "that was part of the job," he said.
He was a non-combat GI whose duty was to supply his comrads.
"When we got off the ship, we went down in the net," he recalled. "They got us as close to the beaches as we could."
He shared what it was like running through the water onto the beach.
The soldiers found an apple orchad where they built their foxhoes.
"It's the first piece of real estate I ever owned," Luther said laughing.
A piece of home he built but later didn't knew would spare his life.
He shared how they picked cards to see who would get the night shift; whoever didn't get the queen of cubs would stay back.
He picked the night shift which kept him away from his foxhole when a German bomber dropped 2 bombs near the beach.
"One of those bombs dropped in my foxhole so if I hadn't been sleeping there that night, I would be have been listed missing in action," he explained.
A blessing he counts everyday.
"I found the perfect wife and a wonderful family. It doesn't get better than that."
And when asked if he would consider himself a hero, he replied," No, I don't consider myself a hero. I didn't save anyone's life but we saved the world."
He shared many stories from that day but remembers grabbing a souvenir: a white parachute. He didn't bring it home with him because he gave it to a friend who would turn it into a wedding dress.
Luther is one of the only D-Day veterans still alive in Cedar Rapids.