Wisconsin veteran remembers D-Day: 70th anniversary on Friday - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

Wisconsin veteran remembers D-Day: 70th anniversary on Friday

BEAVER DAM (WKOW) -- Wisconsin will commemorate the 70 year anniversary of the invasion of Normandy with a special ceremony at the Capitol Friday.

That battle will never be forgotten, especially for those who served in the Armed Forces during World War II.

Ed Beers, known to most as "Butch," joined the Navy on March 5, 1944, almost three months to the day before the invasion of Normandy, France on June 6. Beers was just 17 years old and admittedly very naive.  
"When I went in, I never thought, never dreamed that I would be in the largest invasion in history," Beers says. "Shells were falling all around us in the water and I'm just standing there looking."

Beers says he quickly grew up in just two days as he faced battle for the first time in his young life, surviving the fight that would end up becoming the turning point in WWII and helping to secure an Allied victory.

In a little more than a year the war would be over, but not before Beers saw more action around the world, including Okinawa. He eventually returned home, left the Navy and stayed in Beaver Dam, starting a family and a career working in a foundry. He still lives there today.

The community will gather at the Capitol at noon Friday to honor veterans who served on D-Day, like Beers. The ceremony is a joint effort between the state Department of Veterans Affairs, Wisconsin's Honor Flights and the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association.  "The [veterans] deserve that to the end because of what they did, not only to end an evil tyranny, but to build America," says Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos.

A group of local paratroopers who were part of the invasion at Normandy will speak at the ceremony to tell their stories.  Scocos says there are 400,000 veterans in Wisconsin but in just a few years that number will be closer to 200,000 as many are aging. He hopes the event is a way to keep their memories alive among younger people in Wisconsin.

Even at 88, Beers still remembers D-Day in detail and he hopes his story will also help the public remember the historic day and the lives lost.  Beers just went on the Badger Honor Flight trip to Washington, D.C. in May to see the veterans memorials. He says he was putting it off for several years but couldn't be happier he finally chose to take the trip of a lifetime.

"If anybody sees this and has never gone on but would like to go, thinking 'well maybe I better go'... go. Please go. It was one of the nicest days of my life," Beers says.

The D-Day ceremony at the Capitol begins at noon in the rotunda. You can watch the event at www.wqow.com.
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