TAMPA, Fla. — D-Day veterans who reside in the Tampa Bay area were honored at Macdill Air Force Base on Thursday, the 75th anniversary of Allied invasion.
"Fly the airplane. Let the troopers out. Turn around and come back,” said Gerald “Bud” Berry.
"The hopes and prayers of liberty-loving people everywhere" were with them, Berry said.
And so was fear.
"We had never been in there. We had no idea what was going to happen,” said Berry.
Machine gun fire tore a hole in Army Air Corps 1st Lt. Gerald "Bud" Berry's wing and took down the plane beside him as he dropped paratroopers into enemy territory over the beaches of Normandy.
"We rejoiced that someone else was coming in to help us,” said Bob McClintock.
Bob McClintock flew missions over north Africa and Italy. He flew his last mission 8 days before D-Day, when thousands of Allied forces risked it all to turn the tide of World War II.
"About the flag. I have a feeling for the flag, to me, it just has a meaning, I can't explain it. It just means a lot to me. And I know that so many men and women have died for this emblem,” said McClintock.
At 100, McClintock is just starting to live his second century and Technical Sgt. Robert Rans isn't far behind at 98.
The gunner on a B-24 spent more than a year in a German prison camp before reclaiming his freedom.
"About 22 years old when I was shot down,” said Rans.
These nine D-Day veterans were just youngsters when they were tested entrusted with the survival of the freedom.
"When you're in the service, you do what they tell you to do and we did it,” said Berry.
And we're so thankful they did.