Harold Terens Wedding, Read All Facts Here

In a heartwarming ceremony on June 8, 2024, Harold Terens, a 100-year-old World War II veteran, married his fiancée, Jeanne Swerlin, amidst the 80th anniversary celebrations of D-Day. The couple tied the knot in Carentan-les-Marais in Normandy, a place etched in history for the Allied invasion that changed the course of World War II.

Beside Myself

“I am beside myself with joy,” Terens expressed to PEOPLE ahead of his wedding day. The couple was married by the mayor, adding a special touch to the significant day. The wedding was a family affair, with Terens’ granddaughter singing “I Will Always Love You,” a Whitney Houston classic, as his great-granddaughter walked down the aisle as the flower girl. Swerlin’s son had the honor of walking her down the aisle.

From the Bronx

Originally from the Bronx, New York, Terens enlisted in the Army Air Forces 82 years ago at the age of 18. He recalled the pivotal moment: “I was in the schoolyard with my friends playing basketball when we heard Pearl Harbor was bombed. We were all patriotic guys and we tried to enlist. My parents wouldn’t sign for me because I was underage. But the day after Thanksgiving 1942, I finally went into the service.”

Military Training

Terens’ military journey began with basic training in Miami Beach, followed by a five-month stint in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, where he learned about radios and ground-to-air 522 superheterodyne receivers. He eventually became a Morse code operator and joined the 350th Fighter Squadron in England.

D-Day Memories

Reflecting on D-Day, June 6, 1944, Terens vividly recalled: “I was talking to all the pilots. Every one of our pilots went into battle over Normandy. I was painting white stripes on the planes that remained. We had three separate missions back and forth, and we lost half of our planes and half of our pilots that day. It was one of the saddest days of my life. Most of the pilots were my friends. We were all kids.”

Normandy Experience

Just twelve days after the D-Day landings, Terens was sent to Normandy. “I brought back some American fliers who were released prisoners of war from German stalags. They were emaciated pilots, bombardiers, navigators, gunners, all in very bad condition. I did that about six times, also bringing back German prisoners and British soldiers. It was a disgusting war. Normandy was a horror to look at, and I still have nightmares about it.”

Return Home

After his service, Terens returned to the United States and married his first wife, Thelma, in 1948. Their marriage spanned 70 years until her passing in 2018. Together, they had three children.

Meeting Jeanne

In 2021, Terens met Jeanne Swerlin through Joanne Schosheim, the daughter of Swerlin’s late partner, Sol Katz. Swerlin had been widowed twice and had three children. “Joanne wanted me to meet someone because she said I made her dad so happy,” Swerlin explained. Their blind date led to an unexpected connection. “At the luncheon, Harold didn’t look at me and I didn’t look at him. But at dinner, our knees touched, and I exploded,” Terens recalled.

Proposal

Terens proposed to Swerlin in a garage, unable to wait until they were inside the house. “I got on my knee, got my white trousers dirty, and asked her to marry me. She said ‘Sure.’ When we got inside, I brought her a wedding ring because I didn’t want her to get away.”

Flying to France

Thanks to the combined efforts of Delta Air Lines, the Best Defense Foundation, and Michelin North America, Terens and Swerlin were flown to France for both the wedding and the D-Day 80th anniversary celebrations. This continues Delta’s tradition of transporting surviving American World War II veterans to France to commemorate the historic invasion.

Honeymoon in Paris

After their wedding, Terens and Swerlin, who together have 15 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren, plan to spend their honeymoon in Paris. “This man is so unique in every way. He’s smart, funny, and could be President of the United States at 100. I made him laugh for the first time in his life,” Swerlin said with pride.

Harold Terens and Jeanne Swerlin’s story is a testament to love and resilience, a poignant reminder of the sacrifices of the past and the joys of the present. Their wedding, set against the backdrop of one of history’s most significant events, celebrates both their personal journey and the enduring legacy of those who fought for freedom.

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