Dal Estes, 82, came ashore on D-Day with the 497th Automatic Weapons Battalion, 29th Division, and later fought in the Battle of the Bulge.
Ervin Aden of New Orleans, dressed in his old uniform, served in the Fourth Calvary Unit and landed at Utah Beach on D-day
Duke Levy, 82, landed on Utah Beach with his Army Infantry division and took part in 6 major battles in Europe.
Fifty-six years ago they were invaders confronting the horrors of war on the beaches of northern France. But today, June 6, 2000, hundred of D-day veterans smiled as they rode in glory down the streets of New Orleans celebrating the opening of the National D-day Museum.
The parade's grand marshalls were 8 World War II Medal of Honor recipients, each riding in a vintage Jeep who smiled, waved and flashed the victory sign as an old-fashioned military parade rolled through downtown New Orleans and ended at the New Orleans arena.
Other D-day veterans
rode by the score in the backs of large military trucks with banners identifying
their combat units. Many wore caps with their unit names and insignias
- a few wore their old uniforms.Escorting the trucks were reinactors clad
in vintage combat uniforms.
of red,white and blue confetti rained over the parade route. Overhead
there were 16 different fly-overs including a B-52 bomber, jet fighters
and combat helicopters. Throughout the crowd there were many signs reading
"Thank You!". One observer noted, "I just think we need
to say thank you to those men who risked everything for us. I just want
to make sure they know".
Medal of Honor recipient, Walter Ehlers, told the thousands of people in the arena about a scene that met him when he landed as a young staff sergeant with the Army's 1st Infantry Division as part of the first wave of soldiers to hit the Normandy beaches.
"There was chaos", he said. "It was awful, the most devastating fight I have ever seen. We weren't prepared to see the devastation that we saw there".
Ehlers survived the landing, but his brother was killed during the second wave of the Allied invasion. Ehlers told the crows that the parade was "one of the greatest things" . To see so many people paying tribute to the military on the streets of New Orleans - it was fantastic".