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UTAH BEACH, France -- Thousands of World War II re-enactors have descended on France this week, to pay homage to the tens of thousands of allied soldiers and sailors who took part in D-Day 75 years ago.
Paul Bukowski of Loveland is one of them. But his reasons for re-enacting the war are different from most others.
His father, Henry "Hank" Bukowski, served in the US Army during World War II. He was part of the third assault wave on Utah Beach on D-Day, June 6, 1944.
"My wife and my kids bought this as a gift for my birthday," Bukowski told FOX31's Dan Daru, a fellow re-enactor who has traveled to Normandy this week as well.
"You just think about what happened 75 years ago. You know, the sacrifices," Bukowski said.
This is his first time in France, and he's walking the very same ground his father did.
"Just actually being here, to me, it's overwhelming," Bukowski said, choking back tears.
For Bukowski, this trip to Normandy is a journey of gratitude, love and loss.
Instead of taking pictures of Utah Beach, Bukowski took something much more precious: a bag of sand from the beach his dad landed on that day, 75 years ago.
A priceless keepsake, from an unforgettable trip.
FOX31 is the only Denver TV station reporting from Normandy this week ahead of Thursday's 75th anniversary of D-Day.
We've traveled to Europe with a Denver-based charity called The Greatest Generations Foundation.
The mission of the organization is to return World War II and Vietnam soldiers to the battlefields where they once served.