Town doubles in size for D-Day re-enactment

RE-ENACTMENT DRAWS THOUSANDS
Every August, the tiny town of Conneaut, Ohio, more than doubles in size as people from across the country come for the largest D-Day re-enactment in the nation.

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He may be 96-years-old, but Ralph Russo of New Castle remembers his involvement in D-Day, more than 69 years later.

“We made the invasion of Normandy. Our division prepared for that day over a year and a half in England,” said Russo. “The event was, it’s hard to explain. But you would rather not talk about it”.

June 6th, 1944 resulted in thousands of Allied casualties and injuries. Ralph was one of them.

“I was wounded that night, and it was just turning dark and I was hit by a sniper,” said Russo.

It would be the Army veteran’s last major battle.

But for the third year, he came to Conneaut Township Park in Conneaut, to re-live his history on an almost exact, natural replica of Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.

“It’s just one of those things, you just look at the beach and you say wow, this could be where we hold this re-enactment,” said Lori McLaughlin, COO, D-Day Ohio.

For the past fourteen years, thousands of people have come to watch planes, boats and tanks create a realistic simulation of the invasion of Normandy.

“It’s kind of the best of all worlds. We have land, sea, and air,” said McLaughlin.

In the midst of all of it, organizers just want the importance of D-Day to impact future generations.

“People made sacrifices and we never want to forget that America’s freedom is from this war,” said McLaughlin.

“It brings back the friends that you had in the Army, we were very close, I would say we were closer than brothers. Then you think back of all the ones that aren’t living today, you think so much about those fellas,” said Russo.

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