Santa Rosa veteran earned purple heart during D-Day battle

Updated: 06/06/2014 6:33 PM | Created: 06/06/2014 6:11 PM
By: Kai Porter, KOB Eyewitness News 4

He's now 89 years old. But he was just a teenager back in 1944 when he parachuted out of a plane into Normandy as part of the invasion.

These days, Carlos Gutiérrez spends his mornings at the Belen Senior Center, drinking coffee, meeting new friends, and teaching them his secret handshake.

But the 70th anniversary of D-Day brings back painful memories.

Gutiérrez proudly showed off the medals and badges he earned fighting in World War II. He made sure to point out his purple heart.

"Me and 5 other fellows were given 125 prisoners to bring them back to the stockade," he said.

The 89-year-old was shot in the leg after helping to transport a group of Nazi prisoners through Normandy.

But he remembers the invasion like it was yesterday.

"I feel bad seeing my friends die, but there's nothing you can do about it."

In the 70 years since the invasion, Gutiérrez says he's never been back to Normandy. He never wanted to.

"There may be a sniper," he joked.

After the war Gutiérrez returned home to New Mexico and his wife. Together, they had five daughters and he has about 25 grand kids.

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