A group of 30 World War II veterans is flying back to the beaches of Normandy, France, in celebration of the 78th anniversary of D-Day, the United States-led operation on June 6, 1944, that turned the tide against Nazi Germany.

The veterans departed from Atlanta, Georgia, on June 1 and landed in Deauville, France. They are to participate in a week-long program that will include the official D-Day Commemoration. Their trip is sponsored by the Best Defense Foundation and its corporate sponsors.

“The mission of the Best Defense Foundation is ‘taking care of those who took care of us.’ Through this amazing partnership with Delta Air Lines, we are able to accomplish this mission and provide these heroes with the opportunity to reconnect with their brothers, honor those who gave the ultimate sacrifice and celebrate the liberation of an ally.” Founder of the Best Defense Foundation Donnie Edwards said. This is because the program was done in partnership with Delta Airlines, which chartered the esteemed guests in a Boeing-767.

“We are indebted to these heroes of yesterday, today, and tomorrow for the sacrifices they’ve made on behalf of our country and the world. It is our privilege to participate in this charter that celebrates and honors these veterans.” Delta’s Managing Director of Community Engagement Tad Hutcheson said.

WWII veterans arriving in Deauville, France (Michael Malone/Facebook)

He noted that around 10% of current Delta employees were former servicepeople, and many continue to serve in the Reserves or Guard.

“We have a great, great, great schedule planned,” Edwards said, adding that the event features several highlights such as parades, a commemorative parachute jump, and the official D-Day Commemoration. Twelve of the veterans in the group are also expected to receive the French Legion of Honor.

The American Dream

Edwards, now 49 years old, was a former professional linebacker in the National Football League. His legendary thirteen-year career saw him play for the Kansas City Chiefs and the San Diego Chargers.

“You can achieve anything in America if you work hard,” Edwards said, who was a San Diego native.