GREAT NECK, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Top state honors were issued Friday for a Long Island man who risked it all in the D-Day invasion that led to victory in World War II.

As TV 10/55 Long Island Bureau Chief Richard Rose reported, Walter Blum, 88, faced some of the greatest dangers storming the Nazi-held beaches in France. There was applause from other veterans at the Senior Center in Great Neck Friday, as Blum was inducted into the New York State Senate Veterans’ Hall of Fame.

On June 6, 1944, Blum managed to survive the horrors of Utah Beach in France, clearing the way for others.

“Our job was to get rid of the minefields that he Germans had placed in the water at the beach,” Blum said.

He said he had no choice but to keep going forward.

“There was no other place to go,” he said. “If you went backwards, you would drown, but going forward, you were left in shallow water. The motivation was you had a job to.”

Fellow D-Day veteran Mel Goldberg was a navigator on a B-24 plane. He flew on the bombers providing air cover for Blum and the other troops storming the beaches.

He sail cannot forget what he saw that day.

“We flew over it, and it was absolutely an amazing sight to see all of the ships sunk in the water, all of the bodies on the beach, and for them to climb those cliffs and get up there is an absolutely incredible feat,” Goldberg said.

Blum was twice wounded, but fought on until the end of the war. His longtime girlfriend said the state honors were long overdue.

“I love it, I love it,” said girlfriend Dee Dee Finkel. “It’s marvelous. He deserves it. He’s always helping people, and he’s just a good person.”

After the war, Blum used the G.I. Bill to go to school and become a successful architect. But he said the recent 70th anniversary of D-Day, like every one before it, remains bittersweet.

“There was a certain pride we had in winning that war, and a certain regret and sorrow for those that didn’t make it back to the states,” he said.

Blum said he now just prays for peace.

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