Pasco commissioners recognize Port Richey veteran
NEW PORT RICHEY - Just outside the chambers of the county commissioners, Alphonse Lara insisted he's just a simple man. "I'm not one for getting in front of people," Lara admitted. "I'm a simple person. (My wife and I) like to live our lives together, fulfill it as far as we can and that's it. Nothing more." Most simple folks haven't stormed Omaha Beach in Normandy, France. Nor are they in line to receive the French Jubilee of Liberty Medal from the French government as well as the Legion of Honor Award. Lara is.Tuesday morning, Lara, 88, was given a resolution by the Pasco County commissioners, thanking him for his service to the country. On June 6, 1944, Lara was a member of the Army's 294th Joint Assault Signal Company that landed on the beach in Normandy. Known as D-Day, it was the largest air, land and sea invasion. Lara patrolled the coast of France from Cherbourg to a city called Saint-Laurent-sur-Mer "We had to establish that whole area, which was hot," said Lara, who spent four years in the Army. "We had bodies floating all over. I don't know how many. All I know is when we were allowed to come back home, we saw sticks with the dog tags and helmets that today are all crosses where they were buried." That operation was the lynchpin in the Allied force's success in defeating Adolf Hitler's domination of Europe. Lara, a New York native who has lived in Port Richey for six years, stood before the commissioners with his wife, Victoria, daughters Adele Werner, and Diana Curnutte, and son-in-law Mark Curnutte. "It was nice," Werner said. "He's such a modest, modest man, as is that whole generation." Lara said he doesn't talk much, if at all, about his place in history. His life, moving forward from that time, included the help of a lot of people. "Thankfully, a lot of the members of my family gave me the courage to keep going on," he said. "Thanks to my church attendance and keeping the faith. Otherwise, I don't know how I would have survived."
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