|Updated: 6/06/2012 6:35 pm
||Published: 6/06/2012 5:42 pm
68 years ago American allies stormed the beaches of Normandy, France in what has become known as D’Day.
One of the fighter pilots, a green country native, died last week.
Wednesday, his family celebrated not only his life but the sacrifices of many of those vets.
The journey has come full circle. Charles Smith saw an opportunity to combine his love for airplanes and his country.
He volunteered to sit in the line of fire on his 18th birthday to serve in World War II.
"He was very patriotic and now I'm going to miss him a lot,” said Jeffrey Smith, Charles’ son.
Charles also known as Lee, watched with the rest of the world-- when Pearl Harbor was bombed just two months before he decided to do something about it.
He performed 96 missions in a P-47 and earned “the Distinguished Flying Cross” for bravery.
"He always enjoyed flying even when we were growing up he built little model airplanes," said Bill Smith, Charles’ brother.
"Dad loved this country but this is really not only for him but for every World War II veterans," said Jeffrey.
The Smith family shared this moment with those men.
They also wanted to set the record straight on who they believe really wounded German General Erwin Rommel, the commander of the forces opposing the Americans and its allies in the invasion of Normandy.
"He said I was 50 feet off,” said Jeffrey. “I know I got him."
He says the last few years of his father’s life Charles was adamant about letting people know "He” shot the general in his P-47. But a British pilot got the credit.
FOX23 found YouTube video of Charley Fox talking about that encounter.
"The Americans claimed a P-47 had shot at Rommel. 24- 36 hours later, the Germans came back and said no that he was badly hurt, he was in the hospital,” said Fox. “It was a spitfire.
"He says he got them, said Jeffrey. “I think he got him."
Either way, Charles put his life on the line for his country and so its only fitting even in death he'd go out doing something he loved. His ashes were dropped over Skiatook during a Flyover.
Charles Smith died at 88. Smith leaves behind three kids and one grandchild.