D-Day survivors share stories ahead of 75th anniversary

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Three survivors of D-Day shared their firsthand accounts Monday of what it was like to land on the beaches of Normandy, France.

The D-Day landings on June 6, 1944, changed the course of the European front of World War II and launched the Allies on a path to victory.

U.S. Rep. Tom Suozzi gave flags to the three survivors and asked them to come to his Huntington office to share their stories.

Just one hour after the D-Day invasion began, John McHugh landed on the beaches of Normandy. Irving Goodman, of Huntington, was a machine gunner who got there the second day of the invasion. He was greeted by the sight of mass graves being dug.

"They stepped off the ship into the water, not realizing that all the weight that they had on them, they sank right down into the water and they all drowned," Goodman recalls. "Three-thousand men. I couldn't handle that."

Harry Arlin, of Huntington, was 17 years old when he got to Normandy about a week after the invasion started. He saw a scene of destruction.

"There was a lot of German trucks, burned-out trucks -- American trucks," he says. "Tanks that were destroyed on the beach."

Although all three men had different experiences, they all share the same feelings. They don't consider themselves heroes. They think the younger generation doesn't have an appreciation of what happened on D-Day or in World War II -- and that what they went through on the beaches of Normandy was absolutely awful.

"You just can't believe where you are," McHugh says. "People shooting at you and you're up to your waist, you're all wet and you're scared stiff. So you just run."

Nearly 5,000 Allied troops were killed in the Normandy invasion.

Suozzi says there are 21 people from his district who are buried in the cemetery at Normandy. He's part of a group that will be there Thursday to mark the 75th anniversary of the invasion.



D-Day survivor Irving Goodman recounts the horrors of storming beaches of Normandy


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