What is your most prized possession? To a 101-year-old World War II veteran in Milton, Wis., one of his most treasured items is a glass bottle of sand given to him by a Boy Scout troop leader.
Yet to Jerry DePorter, his teardrop bottle is more than it appears. It’s a reminder of his military service in the Battle of Normandy and the end of World War II.
In 2014, the regional council of Lower Normandy created a medal for any living veteran who engaged in combat at the Battle of Normandy and the Boy Scouts helped distribute the medals.
Among those recipients was “Sgt. Gerard DePorter” of the 159th combat engineering battalion.
As part of a May 2014 Badger Honor Flight presentation which grants veterans an opportunity to visit Washington, D.C. memorials in their honor, he received the gift from Assistant Scoutmaster John Pyeatt of Troop 140.
Pyeatt had recently visited France and returned with a special keepsake in DePorter’s honor.
“While the rest of my family purchased some souvenirs the only thing I brought back with me was sand from Omaha Beach,” shared Pyeatt. “Mr. DePorter, I’d like you to have some of it in remembrance. After all, your trip to France was a lot harder than mine.”
But despite his honorable sacrifice and accolades, DePorter remains humble and shies from being called a hero when he’s thanked for his service.
“Don’t make me sound like a hero,” said DePorter. “I just happened to be there.”
Learn more about DePorter’s WWII memories and find out what he says is important to remember on Veteran’s Day by reading the full story on HNGNews.com.