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DOVER, England (AP) – It took but a few moments for retired Rear Adm. John Roberts to get back into the swing of military life as he arrived Sunday at the English Channel port of Dover to board a ship bound for Normandy and events marking the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
His white beret in place, medals glittering on his chest, he stepped from a bus to find an honor guard and immediately began inspecting the Sea Cadets, one by one. Then the 95-year-old gingerly climbed into a jeep – slowly because his knees are a problem – and cheerfully waved a British flag as photographers jostled to capture the moment. The thought of getting on the boat, though, made him pause.
“I haven’t been afloat for 40 years now,” he said, chuckling. “I hope I’m not seasick.”
Roberts and about 300 other veterans of the Normandy invasion left Dover on Sunday for a six-day trip that will take them back to the landing beaches on the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
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The cruise will take the veterans to Dunkirk and Poole before arriving in Portsmouth, where Prime Minister Theresa May and U.S. President Donald Trump will join other world leaders for a commemoration of D-Day on June 5. They will leave Portsmouth Harbor that evening and arrive in Normandy the next morning, retracing the crossing they made in 1944.
On D-Day, Roberts was a 20-year-old junior officer aboard a Royal Navy destroyer that bombarded the German defences. While three U.S. and three British destroyers were sunk that day, Roberts downplayed the danger.
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