COLLEVILLE-SUR-MER, France – Flint Whitlock calls Colorado home. But he knows so much about the Normandy coast of France, he might as well be a local.
“One of the things I like to say is, 'You can't understand the battle until you've walked the battlefield,'" Whitlock told FOX31.
The battlefield is where you’ll find the Denver resident this week. It’s his fifth time in Normandy leading history buffs from the U.S. to some of the most historic sites of World War II in England and France. We caught up with him on Omaha Beach, where American forces invaded German-occupied Europe on D-Day: June 6, 1944. Their efforts helped turn the tide of World War II.
FOX31 is the only Denver news station reporting live from Europe this week to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Our Jeremy Hubbard traveled to France with a charity founded in Denver, The Greatest Generations Foundation. The organization returns veterans to the battlefields where they served. This week, they’ve escorted several D-Day survivors back to Normandy, where they’re hailed as heroes even seven decades later.
As for Whitlock, he’s leading a tour for Smithsonian Journeys, the official travel program of the Smithsonian Institution. He literally wrote the book on military history. In fact, he has written a total of nine books about World War II.
“Well, I'm a military historian, have been doing that full-time for about 15 to 20 years,” Whitlock said.
He’s the son of a World War II veteran and is a Vietnam veteran himself. And with every return trip to Normandy, he’s awed by what happened in this part of Europe 75 years ago.
“It was a monumental effort -- the number of men, the number of planes, the number of ships. People are drawn to that. They want to see where history happened. They want to walk where our heroes walked and to take away from that a greater sense of purpose, I guess you could say,” Whitlock told FOX31.
Leading the tours is a fascinating job, if one calls it work. Whitlock calls it a duty and an honor to keep alive the stories of American heroism in France.
“I'm very proud that they trust me with telling the story,” Whitlock said.