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Sooners Reflect on D-Day Trip
November 11, 2013

The Sooner men’s basketball team returns to the court tonight as they face North Texas at 7 p.m. at the Lloyd Noble Center. Tickets are available online or by calling the OU Athletics Ticket Office at (405) 325-2424 or toll-free at (800) 456-GoOU.

NORMAN, Okla. - In August, the Oklahoma men’s basketball team spent 11 days in Europe and played five exhibition games during the foreign tour. While there, Lon Kruger’s Sooners visited the site of World War II’s “D-Day” invasions and Battle of Normandy in Northern France. In honor of Veterans Day, a few Sooners reflected on their visit to the historic site.

Junior Guard James Fraschilla

What was the overall experience like?
“It was really breathtaking and special because it’s not something that everybody gets a chance to do, so we were really lucky to get a chance to experience that. It was surreal getting to see the crosses for all the people who gave their lives for our country. It was also interesting seeing Normandy Beach and all the different places where the Germans were firing from. It made us respect our veterans a lot more than we already did.”

How did the trip to Normandy change your perspective on Veterans Day?
“I think we all really respect veterans already, but getting to see that firsthand took it to a whole other level. The visit really put it into perspective.”

What stands out the most to you about the visit?
“The part that stands out to me the most is when we walked up a hill and walked toward the crosses. The first time you see all those crosses from afar and you see how far back they go from east to west, how many crosses there were just showed how many people gave their lives for our country, and that made it even more special.”

What was it like meeting Charles Hearn, a World War II veteran?
“When we met Mr. Hearn, that was pretty cool because he was actually in the war. It was kind of like we were getting to meet history in a way since we got to meet someone who was actually there. The experience was cool already, but getting to meet someone who was in that war and fought for our country, that kind of took things to another level, so it was special.”

Sophomore Guard Je’lon Hornbeak

What was the overall experience like?
“It was a great experience. On the way there, we actually watched the beginning of “Saving Private Ryan,” so we really got an idea of how the D-Day invasion happened. We got to appreciate all the history that happened there, and we also got a pretty good history lesson before we left here as well. We actually met a veteran down there, and it was good to talk to him and take pictures with him. Overall, I just thought it was a good experience for the team and everybody. I was thankful that we got to go there.”

How did the trip to Normandy change your perspective of Veterans Day?
“There is now much greater respect for our veterans. Anytime you go to any type of monument or the actual site of something historic like that, you really just have a greater appreciation.”

Redshirt Freshman Forward C.J. Cole

What was the overall experience like?
“It was really cool just going and seeing the site you’ve seen in movies and you’ve heard about, and you know people who know people who are buried there. It kind of brings it all home. It’s a part of our past. It’s one of those things you don’t really feel that connected to all the time because it’s over in France. So when we went and saw it, it just brought the whole thing into perspective.”

What stands out the most to you about the visit?
“One of the biggest parts was seeing over the cliff and also seeing the battle plans. You don’t realize how big of an area the dead zone was. ‘No Man’s Land’ is what they called it, where our soldiers were just running and running and running (from the water to land), and there was no shelter. It makes you realize how brave they had to be to do that. I didn’t realize how big the area was.”

How did the trip to Normandy change your perspective on Veterans Day?
“I don’t have any relatives who are in the military, so I don’t really know what it’s like. All I have is the movie perspective, but you don’t realize how much people were down in the trenches per se, working and grinding and putting their lives in actual danger just for the protection of us.”

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