More than seven decades ago, Bernard Darty wasn’t sure he would make it out alive from the Invasion of Normandy.
The French Holocaust survivor, who lost his mother in a Nazi concentration camp, was just 10-years-old when American soldiers found him in the French town of Savigny-sur-Orge and freed him while in hiding during the war in 1944.
Now, the 83-year-old is doing the most to pay respects back to his lifelong heroes.
Darty and his wife, Paulette, who also survived World War II, donated to a variety of veteran relief projects following recent devastation from disasters across the United States.
The couple, who currently operate businesses in Miami Beach, Florida, contributed $1million altogether for projects within the American Red Cross as well as the Wounded Warriors Project.
While speaking in a recent press conference, Darty said: ‘In giving this donation, I want to thank Americans with all my heart for rescuing us during the war,’ the Wounded Warriers Project (WPP) website said of the statement.
‘The gratitude I feel to these men is beyond words. They were saviors, doling out sweets to half-starved, war-worn children who had almost given up hope of freedom.
The Paris-born Darty (pictured above with his wife, Paulette, to his right) wanted to help repay American soldiers who saved him and family members during the war
The couple contributed $500,000 to social services organization, Wounded Warriors Project
They also donated the amount to the American Red Cross following recent nationwide disasters
‘That is why I want to support American veterans—and why I support America. I hope my donation inspires others to do the same.’
Chief Executive Officer of the social services organization, Michael Linnington, was beaming with appreciation over the offering.
Linnington said the donation, one of the largest ever received, will help countless veterans in dire need.
‘We serve the most critical needs of our nation’s wounded heroes, including those who live with traumatic brain injury and post-traumatic stress disorder,’ Linnington said in a statement.
American soldiers passing through Carentan, Normandy in a captured German ‘Blitzburger’ jeep make friends with French locals during World War II, June 1944
American soldiers go ashore during the Normandy landing operations in June 1944
‘Thanks to generous supporters like Mr. Darty, we provide them crucial support services free of charge, making a tremendous difference in the lives of wounded veterans of this generation and their families.’
According to the news release, Darty was born to a Jewish family who moved from Poland to France desperate to flee Nazis who invaded the country in 1939.
He spent years living in foster homes. His father also went into hiding, while his four of his other siblings survived under separate living conditions.
Darty vividly recalls the June 1944 day when Army soldiers came ashore to their rescue.
According to his biography page, Darty went on to serve in the French military for 28 months after high school
‘I will never forget what the Americans did to save us … Were it not for those soldiers, we would be speaking German in France,’ he said.
Following the Liberation of Paris, Darty and his father were able to reunite with the remainder of their family.
According to his biography page, Darty went on to serve 28 years in the military after high school.
Following his time in the service, the family started a variety of sales companies in Europe, which Darty would eventually expand to the United States.
‘I have had the chance to meet many American people who I am lucky enough to call my friends,’ Darty said.
Darty, who now resides in Florida, said: ‘I have had the chance to meet many American people who I am lucky enough to call my friends’