LONGMONT -- A month from now, veterans, world leaders and tourists will gather in northern France to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day, and to pay respect to the heroes who helped bring an end to World War II.
Heroes like Jim Whitley of Longmont.
"Well I came ashore on a tractor, and my duty was to pull stalled vehicles out of the beach," Whitley, 95, told FOX31.
He was part of a group of Army soldiers who landed on Utah Beach in Normandy on June 6, 1944, one of the most consequential days of the last century.
Whitley was just 19 years old, with gunfire and mortar blasts near him - but not an ounce of fear in him - as he came ashore.
"I just had a job to do, and done it," Whitley said.
Thousands of young men died on D-Day. Whitley made it out alive, made his way through Europe, and then made his way home... where he made a future with a woman named Betty.
"Well after I got home, I went down to what we call the town hall in this little town. They had a dance going on, and she was there, and I met her, and ever since then we've been together," Whitley said.
"And I teasingly say, 'You know, he lived through World War II. Sixty-nine years married to me ought to be a piece of cake," Betty Whitley, 88, told FOX31.
War stories rarely have happy endings. But Hollywood couldn't have written Jim Whitley's. A long and happy life, with a happy wife, for the last seven decades. And he's still around to share his piece of history as we approach the 75th anniversary of D-Day. So it's our honor to surprise him with the title of FOX31 Serving Those Who Serve Hero of the Month.
"Come on, you`re gonna have me cry," Whitley told FOX31.
"It's wonderful," he added.
Wonderful is just the word his wife would use to describe him, and their last seventy years together.
"I think that's a great idea. He's not a proud person whatsoever. I'm very proud of him, and we've had a good life," Betty said.
If you'd like to nominate a veteran, active duty service member or volunteer to be our Hero of the Month* for June, click here.AlertMe