CONNEAUT, Ohio - Finally receiving all of his awards and medals for his service in WWII, including a Bronze Star for his heroism after being pinned down by the enemy outside of Bellstein, Germany in 1944, Arthur "Pat" Engelberg sat under a period-correct, drab green tent under a hot Conneaut Park sky with seating for WWII veterans only.
Engelberg was the oldest in attendance.
"I'm 99. The oldest guy here," said Engelberg with a grin.
Humbled by the amount of attention given to this two-day event, and to him, Engelberg said his efforts in WWII were the real thing, even if they are 70-year-old memories.
Sgt. Pat Engelberg, 3rd Battalion, 399th Infantry, said while he appreciates the reenactments surrounding him and the passion that comes with it by thousands here this weekend, living it was why he appreciates his family, friends and life itself.
"I feel like an icon. Like a McKinley monument, or the Washington Monument. I respect that, and I encourage it, and I welcome it. It's just great to be on the planet," said Engelberg.
Media specialist with D-day Ohio, Wayne Heim, explained why the beach at Conneaut Park are perfect for this event each year.
"The bluffs here are eerily similar to those that the troops came up in Normandy. I was at Omaha Beach three years ago and was amazed by how similar the bluffs are too. Our beach is about 200 yards long, where as Omaha Beach was another 100 yards at low tide. So, the men had to traverse all that area. There was aerial bombing the night before but because of the cloud cover all the bombs landed inland, so they had no craters to hide behind and in. So, it was an open killing field for the men," said Heim.
Rare artillery for both sides of the reenactments, with watercraft used to give rides for visitors highlighted the afternoon off of the Conneaut Park's beach.
For 18-year-old Manhattan, Kansas resident Ezra Diller, looking the part, and taking part in laying out sandbags for his gun positions on Conneaut Park's bluffs gave him pause for its historical significance.
"These are real German glasses that they would have worn in WWII. I feel the part. When we were filling these sand bags here earlier I really had a re-enactor moment when it really felt like you were there," said Diller.
To check out the schedule for D-Day Ohio, CLICK HERE .