GASTONIA, N.C. -- Ray Stewart is a 93-year-old World War II veteran.
"I was just like everybody else on D-Day. We didn't know what was going on,” said Stewart.
He was just 20 years old during the D-Day invasion on June 6, 1944.
"They were trying to get across that river to that bridge to get back to Germany. We went up there and stopped them from right there," said Stewart.
More than 160,000 Allied troops stormed the beaches of Normandy, France for the invasion.
Stewart was a member of the 2nd Armored Division, stationed along “Omaha” beach. Code names for the five beaches where the Allies landed were Utah, Omaha, Gold, Juno and Sword. He arrived three days after the invasion started.
"I was the replacement force for the 2nd Armored, that's the reason I had to go in," he said.
And while thousands fought from the ground, Stewart was a gunner on a tank. They called themselves Hell on Wheels.
"Being in a tank, bullets they don't bother you, unless you're outside, but shells do. Shells can blow you up, but I was lucky that they didn't,” said Stewart.
An estimated 6,603 American troops were killed, wounded or missing in action.
Stewart said he's grateful to be here today. He's one of the last men standing from his company 72 years after that fateful day.
Ray Stewart is also one of 12 WWII veterans in the Last Man Club of Gaston County.