Veterans pay tribute to fallen at National American Cemetery - wistv.com - Columbia, South Carolina |

Veterans pay tribute to fallen at National American Cemetery

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OMAHA BEACH, FRANCE (WIS) -

To stand for something can cost you everything.

It's a lesson that many veterans learned throughout their stint in the D-Day Invasion 70 years ago. On Wednesday, the veterans made their way to the National American Cemetery where close to 10,000 soldiers were laid to rest after falling in battle.

"This way was fought by those who put a value on human life and freedom," Navy Veteran Ted Teagle said.

It was risky work for the soldiers, especially for paratroopers like 82nd Airborne Division member Leif Maseng who saw many of those he fought alongside fall in action.

"The paratroops probably had 50-60 percent casualties," Maseng said, "and so the friendships you form in one month, might not be there next month."

Those who replaced the fallen soldiers came and went as well. It seemed that only chance would choose the survivors.

"There was an explosion that blew my car off the road," 75th Infantry Division member Vernon Brantley said, "and when I went to the hospital, my replacement was killed about two weeks before I returned. He and my crew leader."

While some may be able to find those they knew in battle, others may not be so fortunate.

"Those people, some good friends of mine," Teagle explained, "They don't have a tangible cross. We didn't have burials. We took a piece of sail cloth, sewed it up and put a shell under each arm. That was to weigh them down into the sea."

Time may have stolen the names and faces of many soldiers who did not make it home, but these veterans haven't forgotten what the deaths of these men meant.

"I still miss them," 505th Port Battalion member Guy Benza said, "but what can I tell you dear? I prayed to God I would make it home."

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