Cleveland World War II veteran returns to Normandy for 75th D-Day anniversary

Image: Watson family

Richard "Dick" Watson, Sr. is 93 years old. He enlisted in the Navy just two weeks after his 17th birthday in 1942. The country was in the middle of World War II.

He was on a minesweeper ship ahead of D-Day in the English channel. Those ships cleared mines from sea lanes. Mr. Watson, a Navy signalman, says they departed from Plymouth, England to make their way towards Northern France. It was on Utah Beach when the Allied Forces stormed the beaches of Normandy. The day ultimately led to the end of the war.

Mr. Watson hasn't been back to Normandy in more than seven decades. It was always on his mind. His granddaughter, Rachel Chumney, says he wanted to go in 2018, but he came down with a nasty bout of pneumonia. He promised he'd get better to make it back to Normandy.

He and his family are there now for the 75th anniversary celebrations of D-Day.

Mr. Watson will be considered a VIP at the ceremony on Omaha Beach Thursday. He and some of his family members received the invite from the American Battle Monuments Commission to go back to France.

On Wednesday, ahead of the actual anniversary, Mr. Watson got the chance to take the exact route through the English Channel that he did in 1944.

Mr. Watson was born and raised in Waycross, Georgia. He was the youngest of five boys. All five siblings enlisted in the military and served in World War II. Mr. Watson raised his family in Highlands, North Carolina.

He now lives in Cleveland, Tennessee to be close to one of his daughters who cares for him.

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