100-year-old WWII veteran gets married near Normandy landing beaches: NPR

American World War II veteran Harold Terens, 100, left, and Jeanne Swerlin, 96, arrive on Saturday to celebrate their wedding at the town hall in Carentan-les-Marais, Normandy, northwest France. France.

Jérémie González/AP

hide caption

Toggle caption

Jérémie González/AP

The first time Harold Terens went to Normandy, he was 20 years old, a corporal in the United States Air Force and assigned the mission of bringing freed American prisoners of war to England a few days after the D-Day in 1944 – a pivotal moment in World War II that helped liberate Europe from Nazi occupation.

Eighty years later, Terens returned to the region of northern France with another mission to accomplish: to marry his sweetheart Jeanne Swerlin.

“I’m blessed to be married to the beautiful girl she is. The smartest girl I’ve probably ever known, the wittiest girl, the best dancer, the funniest,” Terens said last week, before the wedding.

“She is the best of all the others,” he added.

Terens, 100, and Swerlin, 96, both grew up in New York, but only crossed paths in 2021 through the introduction of Swerlin’s former partner’s daughter. Terens and Swerlin were widowers at the time. Terens had sworn off dating at the time, but said he felt an instant connection with Swerlin after the two were encouraged to go to dinner, the Associated Press reported.

On Saturday, the two men exchanged vows at a town hall in Carentan, a small port town near the beaches where Allied forces landed during World War II. The city is also famous for the Battle of Carentan, when American airborne forces fought to secure the link between the landing beaches of Omaha and Utah shortly after D-Day.

After their ceremony, the two were invited to a special state dinner at the Élysée with French President Emmanuel Macron and US President Biden.

“Congratulations to the newlyweds,” Macron said as the crowd of French figures, celebrities and business leaders cheered Terens and Swerlin.

It came days after Terens and dozens of other World War II veterans were honored by France in a ceremony marking the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion. The event also brought together Macron, Biden and other European leaders.

On D-Day in 1944, Terens was in England, working on radios and helping to repair fighter planes. Twelve days later, he volunteered to go to Normandy and help bring back American and British prisoners of war, previously held in German camps.

Terens ended his service in 1945 and worked for a British conglomerate that distributed beer, cigarettes and other items, according to the South Florida Solar Sentinel.

Leave a Comment