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Former Janesville man in Normandy for D-Day anniversary

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Anna Marie Lux
June 5, 2014

Former Janesville resident Joe Reilly is in Normandy, France, for the 70th anniversary of D-Day.

He served as a paratrooper with the 101st Airborne Division and jumped into the D-Day invasion to free Europe from Nazi occupation June 6, 1944.

The 93-year-old was in New York earlier this year and was interviewed by NBC's anchor Brian Williams for a TV special on D-Day. The show will air at 7 p.m. Friday.

NBC did not confirm whether Reilly will be in the final program.

Reilly's first battle jump with the Screaming Eagles came in the first hours of the invasion, when he hit the ground behind the Normandy beaches.

He is quoted in “The Hero Next Door: Stories from Wisconsin's World War II Veterans” as saying:

“It is difficult to put into words what it means to go into combat, to lay your life on the line every day,” Reilly said. “The only comfort is knowing other paratroopers will back you to the last man.”

Reilly relocated from Janesville to San Diego several years ago. He was born and raised in Janesville and worked in a factory in Delavan before entering in the Army in 1943.

Near the end of his basic training, Reilly signed up for jump school to become a paratrooper.



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