The Royal Canadian Mint is honouring Canadians who landed at Juno beach 75 years ago with a new $2 coin commemorating the anniversary of D-Day.
The first coin has been handed out to a New Brunswick veteran who was among the soldiers who stormed the beach in Normandy, France on June 6th, 1944.
99-year-old Alphonse Vautour of New Brunswick was the first Canadian to be handed the coin on Monday.
“It was a wonderful feeling,” said Vautour.
The moment brought him to tears. “I never thought this would happen to me,” he said.
The $2 coin was given to Vautour as a thank you for his service, said Alex Reeves with The Royal Canadian Mint.
“To have a veteran of D-Day come here and to meet him in person and to be able to thank him in person is extremely moving,” said Reeves.
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Vautour is one of the few Canadian veterans who is still alive and able to recall the notorious battle.
“It is something you never forget. You go to bed at night and two or three o’clock in the morning it’s on your mind,” said Vautour.
Vautour said he volunteered to enlist at the age of 23 because he thought it was his duty. He served as a young private from the North Shore Regiment of New Brunswick and said he still wakes up with flashbacks of storming the beach with more than 600 soldiers from his regiment.
“It was no fun, bombs all over the place, big guns,” Vautour said.
On the first day, 35 soldiers from New Brunswick’s North Shore Regiment died, which is why Vautour said the coin carries so much meaning.
With images of soldiers peering toward the beach – just like Vautour’s eyes did nearly 75 years ago.
“It’s hard to realize what you’ve done. But if there was another war I would go ahead again, ” he said.
Vautour turns 100 in October.