On the 70th anniversary of D-Day, a South Bay survivor of the Normandy landings is outlining what he says is his final mission.
Izzy Sanchez was among those who landed at Omaha Beach, and now, the military veteran is hoping to bring back a piece of his history, an old World War II cargo truck that was used by the military to transport Sanchez all over Europe.
- Dramatic Photos: The D-Day Invasion
Sanchez’s job now is to raise money to restore the old truck, but the sight of the machine brings back some old, painful memories.
Sanchez, who was awarded two Purple Hearts, remembers the Normandy invasion vividly.
“Hell broke loose once you get to the top of the hill from the beach,” Sanchez said Friday. “You never forget.”
He still carries the physical and emotional scars of the most harrowing chapter in his life.
- History in Color: The World War II Era
Even Jerry Rosenthal, a fellow WWII veteran who flew 50 bombing missions over Italy during the war, is in awe of Sanchez and the other men who stormed the beaches on D-Day.
“Oh my, oh my,” Rosenthal said. “They had a lot more guts than I ever did. I sometimes wonder how they did it.”
Friday, Sanchez embarked on his final mission. His assignment is to help raise money to restore the weathered old cargo truck. The engine needs a lot of work.
The hope is to one day parade Sanchez and any other veterans through the streets of San Jose on the truck and allow observers to thank these heroes.
But don’t tell Sanchez you’re calling him a hero.
“The guys are the real heroes over in Normandy,” Sanchez said. “The ones who didn’t make it home.”