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Native American D-Day monument dedicated near Omaha Beach

On the 73rd anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, the Native Americans who landed on Omaha Beach finally have a monument, according to an Army release.

The granite, turtle-shaped memorial was dedicated to retired Master Sgt. Charles Norman Shay in a ceremony on June 5. Shay was a teenager when he served as a platoon medic for Fox Company, 2nd Battalion, 16th Infantry Regiment. He is now 93 years old.

So far, 55 of the 175 Native Americans who participated in the D-Day invasion have been identified, Dutch anthropologist Dr. Harald E. L. Prins says in the release.

D-Day by the numbers

D-Day: June 6 marks the anniversary of operations Neptune and Overlord, which began when Allied forces landed in France to stage a massive assault on deeply entrenched German positions. Warplanes struck from above while ground forces swept in from the sea.

Shay believes that he is one of only two Native American combat medics to survive the war without any injuries.

"We were lucky. Call it what you want, fate, destiny, angels, spirits or God. All I know is that my mother prayed for me," he said in the Army story. "There were mothers across Turtle Island [North America] praying for their brave sons. My heart breaks for those women who were never able to welcome their sons home again."

The monument and plaque were erected in Saint Laurent sur Mer, France, as a part of a week-long D-Day commemoration.

"Every Soldier who landed on this beach was a hero," said Shay. "We will not forget their sacrifices."

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