WWII veteran, 100, marries bride, 96, in Normandy on anniversary of D-Day


A World War II veteran has married his bride on the 80th anniversary of D-Day near the beaches of Normandy, France.

Harold Terens – a 100-year-old US Army Air Force veteran living in Florida – tied the knot with 96-year-old Jeanne Swerlin on Saturday, June 8 during a ceremony in Carentan-les-Marais, in the Normandy region of northern France.

The ceremony was officiated in English by Carentan’s mayor, Jean-Pierre L’Honneur, according to the AP. The couple exchanged rings inside the town hall and waved through an open window to people outside who were commemorating the Allied invasion of Nazi-occupied France.

“To everybody’s good health. And to peace in the world and the preservation of democracy all over the world and the end of the war in Ukraine and Gaza,” Terens said in a toast, per the AP.

The WWII veteran – originally from the Bronx, New York – visited France as an Air Force corporal shortly after D-Day, when he was just 20 years old. Terens had enlisted in 1942 and was stationed in England, where he worked as a radio repair technician for a four-pilot P-47 Thunderbolt fighter unit.

WWII veteran Harold Terens, 100, ties the knot with Jeanne Swerlin, 96, on 80th anniversary of D-Day
WWII veteran Harold Terens, 100, ties the knot with Jeanne Swerlin, 96, on 80th anniversary of D-Day (AP)

On D-Day, which took place on June 6, 1944, Terens helped repair planes returning from France to rejoin the battle. That day, more than 150,000 troops from the US, UK and Canada stormed Normandy’s beaches, marking the start of Europe’s liberation from the Nazis. However, more than 4,000 Allied troops died during the invasion.

Terens himself went to France 12 days later, helping transport freshly captured Germans and newly-freed American prisoners of war to England. Following the Nazi surrender in May 1945, Terens again helped transport freed Allied prisoners to England before he was shipped back to the US a month later.

For the wedding, Swerlin wore a long pink dress while Terens donned a light blue suit and matching pink kerchief in his breast pocket. Following the nuptials, the newlyweds were treated to a state dinner at the Élysée Palace with French president Emmanuel Macron and US president Joe Biden, L’Honneur told the AP.

Terens and Swerlin celebrate their wedding at the town hall of Carentan-les-Marais in Normandy, northwestern France, on Saturday, June 8, 2024
Terens and Swerlin celebrate their wedding at the town hall of Carentan-les-Marais in Normandy, northwestern France, on Saturday, June 8, 2024 (AP)

While the ceremony was legally non-binding and purely symbolic, the mayor maintained that “love is eternal”.

Speaking to attendees at the wedding, Swerlin proudly declared about her husband: “He’s the greatest kisser ever, you know?”

“All right! That’s it for now!” Terens said, to which his wife quipped: “You mean there’s more later?”

King Charles III, Joe Biden, and UK prime minister Rishi Sunak also paid tribute to the 80th anniversary of D-Day in Ver-sur-Mer, France. Meanwhile, French president Macron and first lady Brigitte Macron welcomed heads of state and government in Saint-Laurent-Sur-Mer, and awarded Legion of Honour medals to veterans.

The Prince of Wales joined King Charles and Queen Camilla in France, where he attended the Canadian commemorative event at the Juno Beach Center in Courseulles-sur-Mer. Even actor Tom Hanks – who starred in Saving Private Ryan, Steven Spielberg’s 1998 war film set against the backdrop of the 1944 landings – was in attendance at the memorial in France.

“Were it not for their choice to come and do the right thing 80 years ago, you and I would not be standing here,” Hanks said.

Additional reporting from the AP



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