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A Celebration of Heroes: The 75th Anniversary of D-Day

In partnership with The Mighty Endeavor, we are proud to honor and hear from several WWII veterans from Oregon and Washington at a program and reception on the 75th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.

On June 6, 1944, some 156,000 American, British, and Canadian forces landed on fives beaches along a 50-mile stretch of coast of France’s Normandy region. The Battle of Normandy, also known as D-Day, lasted from June 1944 to August 1944 and resulted in the Allied liberation of Western Europe from Nazi Germany’s control. Codenamed Operation Overlord, the invasion was one of the largest amphibious military assaults in history and has been called the beginning of the end of war in Europe.

Veteran honorees include:

Ben Asquith of Dayton, Oregon, was born in Kansas and moved to Oregon with his family at an early age. In 1943, he enlisted in the United States Navy to fight the Japanese but fate would intervene and he would instead begin a year of extensive training for what would become his tour of the European Theater of Operations (ETO). Mr. Asquith was one of the first to land at Omaha Beach on D-Day.

Abe Laurenzo, LCI 47, LCI 409 Radioman, served on D-Day (Omaha Beach) and in the landings in Italy and Africa. Mr. Laurenzo served as a Radioman First Class on a Landing Craft – Infantry (LCI #47). He and his fellow crewmembers delivered 200 troops in the first wave on Omaha Beach. His ship collided with an LST after their first landing and was unable to continue the mission until they could make repairs in dry dock in England.

The Mighty Endeavor is powered by Veterans’ Legacies, Inc., a 501(c)(3) non-profit created to provide a resource for students, educators, historians, families, and the general public. Veterans' Legacies is dedicated to the collection of veterans’ stories in order to preserve and share them for generations to come – giving veterans a voice and an audience to hear it.

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Press Coverage

‘It was war.’ Oregon veterans recall D-Day

By McKenna Ross, The Oregonian/OregonLive. The thing Ben Asquith remembers most about D-Day was the sound of the machine guns. The 94-year-old World War II veteran was a machinist third class for the Navy when he landed on Omaha Beach 75 years ago. Though June 6, 1944, was hectic with history’s largest amphibious invasion landing in Normandy, the clearest detail to him is still the firepower. “The most vivid thing in my mind about the invasion was the noise,” Asquith, wearing his sailor’s uniform and a boutonniere, said. “It was war.” Asquith and two other veterans told dozens about their experiences on the day experts say changed World War II at the Oregon Historical Society on Thursday. The “A Celebration of Heroes” event allowed dozens to meet World War II veterans.

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Oregon Historical Society, nonprofit holds event to honor local D-Day veterans

By FOX 12 Staff, KPTV. In Portland, the Oregon Historical Society and the nonprofit group, "Veteran's Legacies" held a special event to honor local D-Day veterans. And while 75 years have passed, the gratitude has not faded for those who risked their lives that day, June 6th,1944. Thousands of young men risking their lives for nothing less than the fate of the free world. A fate that would be largely decided that very morning. Fast forward 75 years, a ceremony to honor the Oregonians who made the ultimate sacrifice that very day.

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'Our duty was to hit the beach': Veterans share their D-Day stories

By Devon Haskins, KGW. "We didn't think about it. Our duty was to hit the beach. That's what we did." Those words are from mortar machinist Navy 3rd Class, Ben Asquith. He was among the 34 thousand that landed on Omaha Beach during the D-Day invasion at Normandy. The invasion originally scheduled for May 1944 was delayed due to a lack of landing craft. Weather almost delayed it once again, but the decision to move forward with the invasion was made by the Commander of the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force, General Dwight Eisenhower.

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WWII vets recall fateful day: the invasion of Normandy

By Bill Gallagher, Portland Tribune. The two local men are in their 90s. They weren't yet in their 20s when they played a role in the most massive military assault from the sea the world has ever seen. And last week, they shared war stories 75 years to the day after the D-Day invasion of Normandy. "I can't remember how our day went," said Ben Asquith of Dayton, Oregon, then a 19-year-old U.S. Navy chief mechanic on a 50-foot landing craft that transported hundreds of soldiers from warships to Omaha Beach on June 6, 1944.

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