By Christophe Morel, USAG Benelux Public AffairsJune 14, 2019
CHIÈVRES, Belgium -- "It's a big surprise," said Isaac Curtis Phillips, a U.S. Army veteran when he arrived in the courtyard of the International Carnival and Mask Museum June 10 in Binche, Belgium.
"My heart is beating faster," he added.
Four days after the 75th anniversary of D-Day, many members of Phillips family and friends in addition to U.S. Army Garrison Benelux Soldiers and leaders celebrated the 95th birthday of one of the oldest living American veterans from World War II.
From May 31 to June 8, Phillips was in Normandy for the D-Day commemoration. In 1944, he landed on Utah Beach. During the war, he served with Company D of the 22nd Infantry Regiment, 4th Infantry Division.
Seventy-five years after the Utah Beach landing, Phillips still has a many stories to share with people.
"At this time, we didn't know where we were. We didn't know we were in Normandy. We knew it, later, in Paris," said Phillips.
Curtis was born June 10, 1924 in Rockmart, Georgia. He enlisted at Fort McPherson, Georgia, in November 1943, and arrived in Great Britain on May 16, 1944. After the Utah Beach landing, he went to Cherbourg and volunteered to lead a recon team.
Then he was surrounded by the enemy. Phillips hid in a cellar for four days and was reported missing. His family thought that he died.
After the war, he married and settled down in Belgium where he and his wife currently live.
This birthday was special for Phillips and his wife. The couple dedicated the event to Sergio Moirano, another veteran from World War II who passed away in 2016.
"Today, we think about Sergio who was living in Marchienne-au-Pont. He landed with my husband in 1944," said Arlette Haumont, Phillips' wife.
Army Col. Jake Jacobs, SHAPE Base Support Group Commander, gave a letter to Phillips on behalf of Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the former Supreme Allied Commander Europe.
Phillips also received a coin from U.S. Army Garrison Benelux.