GREENVILLE S.C. (WSPA) – World War II veteran Sgt. George Reitmeier has departed Greenville-Spartanburg International and is headed to France for the 79th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

On June 6, 1944, troops from the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom, and other countries invaded the beaches of Normandy in Northern France , which at the time was occupied by the armies of Nazi Germany. The D-Day invasion was the largest naval, air, and land operation in history. 

“As it was getting dark about five miles out of the share board the troop ship was hit with a torpedo from the German submarine and the ship was sunk,” Reitmeier said.

Reitmeier served with the 66th Infantry Division in England. He said in December of that year the division was immediately sent to France in response to a German counter offensive which resulted in the Battle of the Bulge.  That night he said around 1,800 men of his division lost their lives. He said heading back to France he anticipates seeing their names.

“Particularly interesting to me are the names of all the men that were lost and the 66th that are listed on a big wall at the American cemetery near Omaha beach.” Reitmeier said.

U.S. forces faced heavy resistance at Omaha Beach. However, by the day’s end approximately 156,000 allied troops had successfully stormed the beaches. 

On May 8th 1945, the allies formally accepted the unconditional surrender of Nazi Germany, marking the official end of World War II.

“People should remember there are some very poor, crazy leaders in the world of countries and these people can cause untold misery if not controlled in some way.” Reitmeier said.

Reitmeier said the French government will honor him with the French Legion of Honor, the highest medal the government issues for his service and sacrifice in the war. His family couldn’t be more proud.

“I am just so excited for him to have this opportunity and to be able to go see and do whatever he possibly can,” Mary Beth Moss, Reitmeiers daughter, said. “It is wonderful.”

Reitmeier’s family tells us he will be turning 98 years old while in France.

The Best Defense Foundation, Delta Airlines, and Michelin North America have partnered to be able to return the Veterans to Europe for the 79th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.