U.S. President Donald Trump on Thursday, June 6, paid tribute to the man he described as the last known survivor of Company A that stormed Omaha Beach on D-Day, calling him a “tough guy.”
President Donald Trump said, “Private First Class Russell Pickett, of the 29th Division’s famed 116th Infantry Regiment, had been wounded in the first wave that landed on Omaha Beach. At a hospital in England, Private Pickett vowed to return to battle. ‘I’m going to return,’ he said. ‘I’m going to return.’
Six days after D-Day, he rejoined his company—two-thirds had been killed already. Many had been wounded within 15 minutes of the invasion. They lost 19 just from the small town of Bedford, Virginia, alone. Before long, a grenade left Private Pickett gravely wounded.
He was so very badly wounded. Again, he chose to return. He didn’t care. He had to be here. He was then wounded a third time and laid unconscious for 12 days. They thought he was gone. They thought he had no chance.
“Russell Pickett is the last known survivor of the legendary Company A and today, believe it or not, he has returned once more to these shores to be with his comrades. Private Pickett, you honor us all with your presence.”
Pickett, 94, was 19 years old when he joined the first wave of American troops aiming for Omaha Beach, the bloodiest of the D-Day landing zones.
Pickett, a private with Company A of the 29th Infantry Division, was immediately injured when an explosion tore at the landing craft transporting him onto the beach, which was sprayed by German machine-gun and artillery fire.
Plucked out of the water by another landing craft, he was hospitalized in England, but as Trump told the audience at the ceremony at Colleville-Sur-Mer, the soldier was determined to return to the front.
Pickett was injured twice more, the last time when an explosion collapsed the foxhole he was in during the battle for the port of Brest.
The president said the private’s injuries were so bad, that he remained unconscious for almost two weeks, and that many had given up hope that he would ever recover.
But “believe it or not, he has returned once more to these shores to be with his comrades. Private Pickett, you honor us all with your presence,” Trump told the U.S. veteran.