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When Berge Avadanian jumped into France as part of the 82nd Airborne on D-Day, 6 June, 1944 he was sure he was going to die that day.
"I was a fatalist, myself. I was resigned to death. It was a one-way trip as far as a lot of us were concerned because our chances were not so good."In fact he did die on June 6 - 2005.
WWII hero dies on anniversary of D-Day jumpVia Jules Crittenden, who wrote this last year:
A highly decorated World War II paratrooper who listed his participation in the 1944 Normandy invasion as one of his greatest accomplishments, died Monday on the 61st anniversary of D-Day.
Berge Avadanian of Waltham, who would have turned 87 next week, was already a hardened veteran with combat jumps into Sicily and Salerno under his belt when he parachuted into Normandy with the 505th Parachute Infantry Regiment of the 82nd Airborne Division on June 6, 1944.
``I was a fatalist, myself. I was resigned to death,'' Avadanian told the Herald in 1994. ``It was a one-way trip as far as a lot of us were concerned because our chances were not so good.''
Avadanian, who received a Silver Star, Bronze Star and two Purple Hearts, among other decorations, survived the Normandy campaign to participate in the ill-fated September 1944 airborne invasion of Holland before being wounded twice in the December 1944 Battle of the Bulge.
He was a 25-year-old paratrooper, a sergeant with two jumps and five months of fighting in Italy behind him as the plane approached Normandy before dawn on June 6, 1944.How fitting that Verge lived to see the Bosox win the big one.
"It was nothing new to me," said Avadanian of Waltham. At 85, he still talks with the matter-of-fact, sometimes-bitter tone of someone who survived 462 days of combat.
"There were a lot of younger guys. Just boys, going in for the first time. I tried to cheer them up. I said, `Hey, I wonder how the Red Sox are doing. I bet they're getting beat.' Sixty years later, I'm still waiting for them to win," he said.
He remembers seeing just a couple of cows when he landed in a farmer's field. He linked up with other paratroopers, and on the outskirts of Ste-Mere-Eglise at dawn, he killed a German. Then he saw the corpse of a young lieutenant he'd last seen in England having his hair cut, dangling from a tree, his throat slit.
"I'm ashamed of myself. I saw that and I didn't run over to cut him down," Avadanian said.
He remembers winning $750 at poker from his friend John Everhardy in England in the tense days before D-Day, as they waited to go. Everhardy was dead within a week, killed beside him.
"John was my best friend," he said. "He still owes me that $750."
Avadanian jumped into Holland and was wounded in the Battle of the Bulge. He lived to help liberate the Wobbelin concentration camp and accept the surrender of 136,000 German soldiers. He met the Russians on the Elbe River.
As the 60th anniversary of D-Day nears, he said, "If God would allow me to be born again, I would pray to God to put me on that same road to Normandy. It was the most gratifying thing I have ever done. I was so proud to be fighting for my country."
Are there heroes in your neighborhood?