US WWII veteran 'at home' in Normandy for D-Day commemorations

Among the World War II veterans returning to Normandy to mark the 80th anniversary of D-Day is Alan Shapiro, 99, who is staying with a French family in the village of Créances as part of a local hosting programme. It's a learning curve on both sides as Shapiro revels in the unexpected recognition, and the family sees the Allied invasion through American eyes.

The stone-clad villages across the Normandy coastline are awash with American, British, Canadian and French flags to commemorate D-Day.

They flutter in the streets, on lampposts and garden gates.

In the village of Créances, a line of US and French flags has been strung out in front of a modern house, bearing the message "Welcome to your home" in big black letters.

The Coulon family have opened their door, and hearts, to US WWII veteran Alan Shapiro and his wife Margaret for a week – to visit memorial sites, interact with elderly people and schoolchildren, and of course attend the D-Day ceremony itself.

There's a language barrier, but the black-and-white photos Shapiro took during his time as a pilot with the 1st Allied Airborne 316th Troop Carrier Squadron speak for themselves.

He was just 18 and loved taking pictures from the air when out on flying missions during the Battle of Normandy, or on the ground with his comrades.

At 99, his memory is as sharp as ever.

"Nothing, nothing left," the Coulons comment in unison, shaking their heads at the scenes of destruction.

Then there's Shapiro posing proudly in the cockpit of his C-47 plane, or smiling, his arms around two co-pilots.

But it has.

Read more on RFI English

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