As military personnel commemmorate D-Day, vet recalls loss of friends
Armoured vehicles and military personnel took over downtown London Sunday morning for a parade and ceremony to mark the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
One by one, more than 180 names of those lost during the Second World War were read aloud. Many of them colleagues and buddies of 96-year-old Phillip Cockburn.
"That hurts - to lose your friends," says Cockburn.
The former World War II tank gunner is one of the last surviving members of London's 1st Hussars. It was 75 years ago this week, that he stormed the beach as part of the Allied invasion of Normandy, France.
He recalls being petrified. "If you weren’t, there was something wrong with ya."
Cockburn has become a bit of a celebrity this week. With television and newspaper interviews and a constant public line-up at Victoria Park Sunday waiting to get a word or a handshake from the veteran.
"Phil is good friend," says retired major Eugene Smith of the 1st Hussars. "Those World War II vets taught us a lot. Did you know his tank was hit three times with direct fire? Those guys never forget what they went through, and they live with memories good and bad.”
To commemorate that time, the 1st Hussars held a military parade through the streets of London.
It involved armoured vehicles, horses, army reservists and cadets. It was followed by a ceremony.
Smith says this historic anniversary is very important.
"Most of our vets from that time have passed on. We only have four to five left from our regiment, and we're lucky that Phil is healthy enough to be here. Seventy-five years ago, they were young men, were only 18-19-years-old, that's why it’s important to be here."
As those in attendance paid their respects, the phrase, "Freedom isn't Free" was recited a few times throughout the morning.
Cockburn echoes that sentiment. "That is very true, very true."