D-Day veteran Russell Pickett returns home to Soddy-Daisy after being honored in France

Russell Pickett was on the first wave into Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Last week a local hero was honored on an international stage.

75 years ago Russell Pickett was 19 years old and he was in the first wave to hit Omaha beach.

Russell Pickett came back from Europe on Monday night after being honored by two presidents on an international stage.

"I told them I started to run," Mr. Pickett said. "Shocked me. I didn't know they was gonna do it."

Mr. Pickett was in France for the 75th Commemoration of D-Day. During the ceremony President Donald Trump told part of Mr. Pickett's story.

"Russell Pickett is the last known survivor of the legendary Company A, and today believe it or not he has returned once more to these shores to be with his comrades," President Trump said during the ceremony in France. "Private Pickett you honor us all with your presence."

Mr. Pickett didn't know that was coming. He also didn't expect what happened next

President of France, Emmanuel Macron, helped Mr. Pickett to his feet to be honored. Then President Trump and Emmanuel Macron shook his hand and gave him a big hug.

"Well it makes you feel a little bit good. Yet when you stop and think about all the other guys over there that changes your tune. To go back to the beach where so many were killed. Good friends and i think they are the heroes," Mr. Pickett said.

When President Trump went back to the microphone he had two more words for Russell Pickett

"Tough guy," President Trump said.

Mr. Pickett's granddaughter, Edie Bice, told us those two words say it all about her grandfather..

"I don't think there is anyone any more tough than Papaw. I mean to live through what he went through. To go through what he's been through these last 10 days. 94 years old. Don't get any tougher than that," Edie said.

Mr. Pickett's trip was funded and organized by a group called the Best Defense Foundation.

close video ad
Unmutetoggle ad audio on off