ROCK ISLAND, Illinois -- A Clinton man was honored at the First Army Headquarters on the Rock Island Arsenal for his service on D-Day 75 years ago, when he parachuted behind enemy lines with the 82nd Airborne Division in the allied invasion.
Ninety-five-year-old Henry Langrehr wore a wide smile as he recalled the last paycheck that he and his fellow paratroopers received before the jump in 1944.
"And the guys were up, they didn’t have anything to do. So what do you think they did?" Langrehr said. "They got the cards out and they got the dice out," he said.
Asked how much he won, he said about 1200 dollars. His hosts at the Rock Island Arsenal, including mostly servicemen and women, burst out into laughter.
That humor and perhaps a little luck served Langrehr well in the war. He landed five miles from his drop zone, crashing through a greenhouse on the way down. Unharmed, he continued to fight until sometime later, when he was badly injured and captured by the Germans.
After several months of forced labor, Langrehr made a daring escape.
"When I went into Normandy I weighed 150 pounds. When I came out I weighed 90," he said, holding back tears.
But for the most part, on the 75th anniversary of the fateful operation, Langrehr says he doesn't think about himself.
"My thoughts are about my comrades. The people that I knew and loved. And are not here. That can’t live a life that I’ve lived," he said.
After Langrehr came home, he married his sweetheart and started a family and a business in his hometown of Clinton.