Pfc. Thomas Macdonnell was just 21 years old when his unit landed on Omaha Beach. Now a retired doctor, the 91-year-old has traveled back to Normandy with two generations of family members at his side.
Macdonell was a sharpshooter with the 1st Infantry Division, which was among the first wave of troops to land on Omaha Beach on D-Day. After the war, he returned home and became an obstetrician. “Dr. Tommy,” as he is often called, delivered nearly 5,000 babies throughout his career, and had eight of his own.
His sons and grandsons accompanied the two-time Purple Heart recipient on this emotional trip. Macdonnell hopes to pass along the lessons of that day to the next generation.
“It’s a wonderful thing for them to understand,” he told NBC’s Brian Williams. “But if we can get the world to understand, we’ve got to.”
Macdonnell visited Normandy 20 years ago on the 50th anniversary, but this time, he visited the cemetery to salute the thousands who lost their lives in the battle that would become one of the most storied in American military history.
“It was gratifying to know that the men that I knew were being well taken care of,” he said. “It’s beautiful.”