Yesterday marked the 76th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy during World War II, an event that we commonly refer to as D-Day. This past November, five World War II veterans took a trip to Normandy, courtesy of a partnership between the Minnesota Vikings and Hy-Vee grocery stores.
Two of the veterans involved, Fred Apfelbacher and Donald Halverson, served in the United States Army in World War II. The other three. . .Robert Holmstrom, William Patten, and James Rasmussen. . .were a part of the Army Air Forces, which was the precursor to the U.S. Air Force. The Army Air Forces becaume the Air Force in 1947.
According to the story from Craig Peters, one of the writers for the Vikings’ official website, the five men started their week by taking in a practice at the team facility. After breaking down the team huddle at the practice, the five men began their journey to England and France, where they toured several places in addition to Normandy Beach.
Upon their return to the Twin Cities, they were able to be at U.S. Bank Stadium for a Vikings’ game. They got to see a pretty good one, too, as the Vikings made one of the largest comebacks in team history, charging back from a 20-0 halftime deficit to defeat the Denver Broncos, 27-23.
It’s always awesome to see our veterans be able to experience these sorts of things. With as far removed as we are from World War II, we have fewer and fewer of these men left among us each year, and seeing them make this journey is pretty spectacular.
Kudos to the Vikings and Hy-Vee for putting this together for these men, and to the Vikings Entertainment Network for sharing it with all of us.