Jun 19, 2019 at 09:28 PM

D-Day memories vividly recalled in Santa Barbara luncheon

By Pierre Claeyssens Veterans Foundation

By John Palminteri KEYT

Memories of D-Day at Normandy were put into real words at Santa Barbara's Hilton hotel as part of a 75th anniversary event.

"We've got to beat them on the beach we've got to stop them on the beaches, " said Lt. John Blankenship, who served in the U.S. Navy.

Military Veterans recalled the strategy at the time of D-Day planning and how the plan was changed many times based on the weather, the enemy's response and the obstacles from the ocean to the five beaches facing U.S. and Allied troops.

"On the evening of the 5h of June we had 175 000 troops,  we had 20,000 airborne troops we had 11,000 aircraft we had 50,000 trucks ready to invade Europe," Brigadier General Fred Lopez with the U.S. Marine Corps said.

Col. Philip Conran served in the U.S. Air Force and said, "They bombed all the bridges and all the railways and everything in France to prevent the Germans from using their forces that they had to help out the people at Normandy."

Nothing tells the story better than to hear it from someone who was there.

Art Petersen from the Army 101st Airborne "Screaming Eagles" told us how he made it through.

"What I did every day and every morning when I got up while I was in the service, I said 'just give me one more day,'" said Petersen.

But he saw the worst of the war.

"Because I saw my buddies torn apart and it hurt I was with them a year or two years with them in practice and everything and then one day they are gone," he said.

Petersen almost didn't make it. He was wounded in his plane even before he saw the battle field.

"And the co-pilot said let's get the hell out of here, the plane is going down, so I had to jump. I landed and I saw the plane where it crashed," said Petersen.

The luncheon was hosted by the Channel City Club committee on Foreign Relations concluded with a message to never forget those who served.

"May we live each day of our lives  in ways that honor them and their self-sacrifice," said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. "May God bless the memory of them all and may God Bless America, the home of the brave."

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