NORMANDY, France -- The first time Steve Melnikoff walked on Omaha Beach, he was a young man. And like tens of thousands of soldiers - he wasn't sure he'd make it off the sand alive. Just 24 years old. An infantry man. Part of the D-Day invasion effort to save Europe from Hitler and the Nazis.
Right above that beach in France, there is an entire cemetery full of Americans who died in the fight. And just weeks ago, FOX 31 had the honor of walking around that cemetery with Melnikoff - who was greeted with hugs and tears from appreciative tourists for his role in helping end World War II.
"I`m 98 years old, and I never realized that something like this would happen," Melnikoff said.
"We come back to Normandy, it`s just the most wonderful place. The people are very appreciative, they treat us just royally and we just love the Normans. Sometimes they give us so much adoration that it`s too much. We almost can`t stand it," he joked.
Steve Melnikoff is living history.
"We veterans didn't talk about the war much, some of us never could talk about it. After many years, I'm able to talk about it, and I feel like now I have to do this because we're down to the point there aren't many of us left," he said.
Wednesday, on the 74th anniversary of the D-Day invasion, Melkinoff was back in Normandy, as part of the ceremonies marking the occasion. But he wasn't content to just relive history. He wanted to make history again.
For a man whose life flashed before his eyes on this very beach 74 years ago this week, it's clear D-Day hero Steve Melnikoff still has plenty of life left to live. Even after 98 years.
Melnikoff traveled to France with several World War II veterans, as part of a program organized by The Greatest Generations Foundation, a charity started in Denver. To learn more about who they are and what they do, click here.AlertMe