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Local man tells father's story about D-Day

Posted at 7:26 PM, Jun 05, 2019
and last updated 2019-06-05 19:35:46-04

GRASS LAKE, Mich. — On Thursday, the world will say' thank you' to the men who stormed the beaches at Normandy on D-Day, on the 75th anniversary of the invasion.

More than 4,400 allied soldiers died during the landing. One of the survivors eventually settled in Mid-Michigan.

Exactly 75 years ago Philip Ward Brier was getting on a boat to prepare to storm Utah beach. His son, John sat down with Fox 47's Megan Hiler on Wednesday to tell his dad's incredible story.

"Their task on D-Day was to go ashore on Utah Beach and meet up with airborne at Sainte-Mère-Église, France," he said.

As a member of the 82nd Airborne, 22-year-old Private First Class Philip Brier usually jumped out of planes. But on June 6th, 1944, he stormed Utah beach. His son, John said his dad didn't tell the story often, but when he did, he always listened.

"They were pulling a trailer full of ammunition, they made a mad dash for the beach to Sainte-Mère-Église and along the way they passed some German soldiers who kind of watched them go by, completely surprised," he explained.

Brier says they ended up making it to the paratroopers with the weapons and then grabbed rifles and helped out. He says this was just one of the many times he felt proud of what his father did.

"It just seems like that's what he would do. A double volunteer. Volunteered for the army then took a chance with the airborne. I'm kind of proud of it."

Brier said his father, like so many other veterans, struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder after he got home.

"We call them the greatest generation and there is a reason for that. They didn't shirk their duty. They stood up and they went overseas. A lot of them died. They came back scarred. And that's something to remember and honor," Brier said.

Three-quarters of a century later, in the Michigan Military Heritage Museum, Brier's uniform, watch, and other items sit behind glass in a special case. John Brier is proud of his father's service every day, but especially days like D-Day.

"These guys didn't hesitate. They stood in front of machine guns. And that's why we are here today," he said.

Brier's grandfather, Jack also served in the military. He was a base commander of Southwest Proving Ground in Arkansas.

The Michigan Military Heritage Museum in grass lake is honoring D-Day veterans with a special exhibit. You can see Philip Brier's items along with others who served there.

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