Nonprofit sponsors Gainesville WWII vet’s trip to Normandy for D-Day anniversary

A Gainesville man who served during World War II is getting a rare opportunity ahead of the 80th anniversary of D-Day. At the tender age of 99 years old, former Colonel Alan Kinder is preparing for the trip of a lifetime.  

He’ll return to the beaches of Normandy with the help of a Tennessee-based nonprofit called Forever Young Veterans after officials with the organization contacted him last year about the all-expenses paid trip. 

"Such an unexpected privilege," Kinder told FOX 5. "First question they asked is, ‘Would you like to go to Normandy?’ Naturally, I said, ‘Yes.’" 

Drafted in 1943, Kinder was one of thousands of U.S. soldiers who risked their lives to defend the allies of WWII against Nazi Germany. 

"I lived long enough to be here to represent a lot of people who weren’t so lucky," he said. 

He was part of a specialized group deployed on June 7—the day after D-Day. Their mission was to find German weapons. 

"Our business was locating enemy guns by using microphones in the ground," he explained. 

Kinder served for two years, ultimately reaching the rank of colonel. 

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Retired U.S. Army Col. Alan Kinder, at 99, will be returning to the beaches of Normandy, which he helped to capture, for the 80th anniversary of the D-Day invasion.  (FOX 5)

Now 80 years later, he says he’s looking forward to visiting Normandy again, and he’s grateful that this time he’ll get to see it with his grandson. 

"We landed in the dark. It was all black out conditions…so I never literally saw the beach…this will be my first time to see the beach…possibly the most wonderful part to me is being able to take my grandson," he told FOX 5. 

Kinder said as the anniversary of D-Day approaches, he’s reminded of his sacrifice along with many others… and he’s proud to wear a U.S. Army uniform once again. 

The World War II vet will celebrate his 100th birthday in January. He leaves for Normandy on Monday, June 3 and says he’ll fly Delta Air Lines.