A Hall Of Fame For Heroes

On the day that the allies invaded the beaches of Normandy, Charles Parker led his troops on a rescue mission, reports CBS News Correspondent Byron Pitts. Now he is being inducted into the U.S. Army Ranger Hall of Fame.

"You regret every casualty," says Parker. "I hated the letters home."

The memories are not easy. It was the hardship of the depression, Parker says, that prepared him for the bloodshed of war.

"The thing that allows you to function, I think, boils down to two things and that's pride and responsibility," he says.

Wilbur Ingles, who followed him into battle, says he doesn't think there was a better officer in the U.S. Army than Ace Parker.

These veterans of Normandy were all 20-something-year-old Army Rangers in the biggest battle the world had ever seen. It didn't simply change their lives, it defined them.

Now slowed by age, Rangers who stormed the beaches of World War II walked tall as Ace Parker and other army heroes were inducted into the Ranger Hall of Fame.

It's an honor Parker now believes a new generation may better understand -- not because of his heroism, but Hollywood.

"Now it's being talked about," says Parker. "All this time it took to...search for Private Ryan."

Still, a movie cannot show what these men saw.

"Now we're talking 45,000 men," says D-Day veteran Richard Hathaway. "You had the division in there fighting. You had a division in there wounded, and a division that was dead! People don't realize that -- that that's what fighting was all about."

Parker's name will now appear beneath the Ranger Motto: words first uttered by an Army general on Omaha Beach.

"I swear I heard him say: 'lead the way, Rangers. My men are green.' well, so were we," says Parker.

They may have been green, but they were also courageous enough to save a nation and change the world.

Reported by Byron Pitts
©1998, CBS Worldwide Inc., All Rights Reserved