NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — On the 70th anniversary of D-Day on Friday, former Army Sgt. Morton Wernick will receive another medal to add to his collection — this one for landing in Normandy and participating in numerous battles to help free France.
“I’m glad I’m here to celebrate,” Wernick, who will be among several dozen honored, told CBS 2 political reporter Marcia Kramer. “After all, I’m going on 93.”
He’s also glad about something else: His D-Day assignment was to land on Omaha Beach with his Signal Corps unit, but a military police officer sent his team to the wrong boat, and they landed on Utah Beach instead.
“If I saw him and he was still alive, I would kiss him and hug him because Utah Beach was … a walkaway compared to Omaha Beach,” Wernick said.
Wernick still has his uniform, even though it’s a little snug after all these years.
And during his fours of active duty, his assignment included a tour with Gen. George Patton’s Fourth Armored Division, in which Wernick had to shoot as well as maintain sensitive radar equipment. He still owns top-secret Signal Corps books with instructions and diagrams for maintaining equipment, where the first order was to keep them out of enemy hands.
Wernick said the first battle was the worst.
“The first landing, when we landed, your mouth grows dry, your heart is beating a hundred times a minute,” he said.
In addition to many battles in France, Wernick was also posted to Germany before the World War II finally ended.
During one of his last missions, Germany villagers wearing a German Army armband surrendered to Wernick’s team.
To commemorate D-Day, a special celebration will be held Friday at the Statue of Liberty, sponsored by the group the French Will Never Forget.
Wernick and his family will be in attendance to watch as 1 million rose pedals are dropped from three helicopters.
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