Back on the beaches of Normandy: Veteran reminisces

8:09 PM, Nov 12, 2012   |    comments
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Yet, if you head to nearby Omaha Beach, you just might find history reveal itself in a much more subtle fashion.

"It looked like a city out here because it was just so full of ships," Hardin Cooper said. "This sure is something I never thought I'd see again."

When Private First Class Cooper landed on Omaha Beach, there were nearly 1,500 dead or dying soldiers on the sand right in front of him. That's when the combat medic from Kentucky tried to rationalize the irrational.

"I was born and raised on a farm, and I told a man who was with me, 'We've got two acres of dead men here.' That's what it looked like. They were in piles, you know. It looked to me that we had two acres of dead men here."

Not that Coloradan Al Villa needs someone else to tell him about the history of the beaches of Normandy.

"The water is a little higher here, but that's how it looked," Villa said. "You just did what you had to do."

Earlier in 2012, a dozen WWII veterans including Cooper and Villa returned to the beaches of Normandy with the help of the Denver-based Greatest Generations Foundation.

"I really never thought I'd be back again," Cooper said as he looked over the vast expanse of sand at Omaha Beach.

"When I was here [on June 6, 1944,] I said, 'Lord, if you let me live though this, I'll do what you want me to do.' And from that day until this, I never thought that I wouldn't make it for some reason."

For more information on The Greatest Generations Foundation, visit

(KUSA-TV © 2012 Multimedia Holdings Corporation)

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