Billings’ World War II veteran Bud LaCounte, who was on the ground on Omaha Beach in the hours after the Allied invasion on D-Day, has died, according to Facebook post by a family member.
LaCounte was 98 years old and had recently been moved into hospice.
His story, like many of the millions who served in World War II, was nothing short of amazing. A Chippewa Indian, he was taken away from his parents at the age of six and sent to the Fort Totten Indian School. He wouldn’t see his family again for nine years.
“They were going to take the Indian out of us and make white folks out of us or something,” he said in a 2019 interview.
By the time he was 21, the world was at war and LaCounte was driving a jeep onto Omaha Beach on a day that would turn the tide in World War II. In 2013, He was awarded a French Legion of Honour medal for helping free France from the Nazis.
“When I saw the chaos and what we were doing, it scared the living hell out of me,” LaCounte said.
After the war, LaCounte did like many other veterans did— he came home, went to work and began raising a family.
He still loved to get out on the dance floor even in his later years, but slowed down after taking a fall while in Normandy for the 75th anniversary of D-Day. Despite undergoing an emergency hip replacement, LaCounte was still there sitting behind then President Trump for the ceremonies.
In May, a crowd of family and friends helped him celebrate his 98th birthday.
“I ended up doing a lot better than I ever dreamed I would,” he said.
Related: Billings World War II veteran celebrates 98th birthday