RICHMOND, Texas (KTRK/CNN) - After years, a 100-year-old Army veteran who served in World War II is getting recognition for his service after his family learned he was part of the invasion of Normandy.
Lucian Baskin, 100, is living history, and there’s one part of his life that even his family just recently learned.
Only when the family was gathering pictures and putting together a biography for Baskin’s 100th birthday this past September did they learn that when he was in the Army he was part of the invasion of Normandy.
“I said, ‘Wait a minute.' I said, ‘Wow, I never realized that,’" said Baskin’s niece, Rosalyn Poche-Waddleton.
Poche-Waddleton says no one talked about it, not even Baskin.
Now, Baskin, who is healthy except for some bad knees, says he saw a lot in June 1944, and he’s grateful to be alive.
“Those were rough days. It’s bad to see people falling all around you and having to step over dead people. That’s kind of rough and hard to get used to,” he said. "I feel blessed to be here. I really do.”
After the invasion, Baskin and his battalion made their way to Belgium and Germany. They left Europe in 1945.
Baskin would later marry twice and have two children. He worked for the government and retired as a salesman at a Houston photography store. Photography was his passion.
Poche-Waddleton says she’s proud of all parts of Baskin’s life story, as she continues to learn. She encourages families to ask questions of their older veterans.
"They need to take notes," she said. “They need to be able to pass it down."
Baskin just encourages people to thank veterans.
"It usually makes my day when someone congratulates me and says, ‘Thank you for your service.’ It makes me feel good because, for so long, I never received the recognition,” he said.
Fewer than 400,000 WWII veterans of the 16 million who served are still alive, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs.