WWII Vet, 100, Is Getting Married Near D-Day Beaches

American Harold Terens' fiancee is four years his junior
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Mar 11, 2024 2:38 PM CDT
WWII Vet, 100, Will Be Honored in France. Then He's Marrying
World War II veteran Harold Terens, 100, holds a photo of himself during the war when he was 20.   (AP Photo/Wilfredo Lee)

Harold Terens and fiancee Jeanne Swerlin kissed and held hands like high school sweethearts as they discussed their upcoming wedding in France, a country the World War II veteran first visited as a 20-year-old US Army Air Forces corporal shortly after D-Day. Terens, a gregarious and energetic 100-year-old, will be honored in June by the French as part of the 80th anniversary celebration of their country's liberation from the Nazis. Then he plans to marry the sprightly 96-year-old Swerlin in a town near the beaches where US troops landed, the AP reports.

"I love this girl—she is quite special," said Terens, who has been dating Swerlin since 2021. "He's an amazing guy, amazing," Swerlin said. "And my god, he's the greatest kisser," she said. The couple, who are each widowed, grew up in New York City: she in Brooklyn, he in the Bronx. They laugh at how differently they experienced World War II. She was in high school and dated soldiers who gave her war souvenirs like dog tags, trying to impress. Terens, on the other hand, enlisted in 1942 and shipped to Great Britain the following year, attached to a four-pilot P-47 Thunderbolt fighter squadron as their radio repair technician. All four were killed in action. "I loved all those guys," says Terens.

On D-Day—June 6, 1944—Terens helped repair planes returning from France so they could rejoin the battle. He went to France 12 days later, helping transport freshly captured Germans and just-freed American POWs back to England. To him, the Germans seemed happy because they would survive the war. The Americans, however, had been brutalized by their Nazi captors over months and even years. "They were in a stupor," he said. (Read the full story, which details Terens' further missions and two close calls that nearly took his life.)

(More World War II stories.)

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