On Thursday, five American men were bestowed with France’s highest military decoration, the Legion of Honor, for their service on that fateful day.
“You are among the very greatest Americans who will ever live. You are the pride of our nation. You are the glory of our republic and we thank you from the bottom of our hearts,” President Trump said Thursday morning alongside French President Emmanuel Macron.
The D-Day commemorations were solemn and breathtaking as more than 170 vets of World War II were in attendance.
The president paid tribute to two men in particular, Army medic Ray Lambert and Private Russell Pickett.
“Of the 31 men on Ray’s landing craft, only Ray and six others made it to the beach. There were only a few of them left. They came to the sector right here below us. 'Easy Red' it was called," Trump said of Lambert. "Again and again, Ray ran back into the water. He dragged out one man after another. He was shot through the arm. His leg was ripped open by shrapnel. His back was broken. He nearly drowned."
Pickett, who is the last-known survivor of the historic Company A battalion, was wounded in the first wave that landed on Omaha Beach.
“At a hospital in England, Private Pickett vowed to return to battle. 'I’m going to return,' he said. 'I’m going to return.' Six days after D-Day, he rejoined his company. Two-thirds had been killed already; many had been wounded, within 15 minutes of the invasion," Trump said. "They’d lost 19 just from small town of Bedford, Virginia, alone. Before long, a grenade left Private Pickett again gravely wounded. So badly wounded. Again, he chose to return.
"He didn’t care; he had to be here."