Vet reflects on D-Day invasion

Veteran reflects on D-day invasion

MOUNT PLEASANT, SC - The Lowcountry has a unique connection to the D-Day invasion.

The U.S.S. Laffey at Patriot's Point is one of only two surviving U-S warships from the D-Day invasion.

Ari Phoutrides served on the famous destroyer from before Normandy when he was a teenage boy to the very end of the war. Every year he comes back to visit.

"It brings back some pretty vivid memories. Some bad memories and some funny memories, too," Phoutrides said. "She brought me back safely from the war and from the invasion and Japan so you grow very much attached to the ship itself."

He joined the ship as a quartermaster third class just a couple of months before the invasion.

"I knew it was an invasion," Phoutrides said. "We all did, but we didn't know how large it was."

He says the invasion was an awesome sight.

"I couldn't quite get over the enormity of the situation," Phoutrides said. "All you saw were thousands of ships and you looked up into the sky and it was just blanketed with planes."

The ship didn't face its toughest test until Japan. During the invasion of Okinawa, the ship was hit by five kamikazes and three bombs and earned it's nickname as 'The Ship The Would Not Die'.

"Other ships have been hit by one plane and been sunk, so we felt very fortunate," Phoutrides said. "As I often, often say, We had some help from above."

To Phoutrides, the real legacy of the ship that would not die is the men who did.

"The legacy of this ship is men giving their lives for a cause, to protect what we have, and they lived up to that legacy," Phoutrides said.

Friday night at 7 pm, Patriots Point will commemorate the 70th anniversary of D-Day by hosting a symposium and speakers who took part in the Normandy invasion.