Ultimate D-Day hero recalls cliffs of Normandy

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Of all the stories of the Allied invasion at Normandy in World War II, perhaps none leaps off the pages of history like that of Leonard Lomell.

The 87-year-old Toms River resident was a staff sergeant and platoon leader with the elite 2nd Ranger Battalion, whose soldiers scaled a 100-foot seaside cliff during the invasion and destroyed five giant German guns to clear the way for allied troops.

It's a story that's been told at countless reunions over the years, documented in books and films and touted by historians as one of the most important keys to allied success on D-Day.

But for Lomell, like most D-Day vets, the first thing that comes to mind when asked about that day is a darker, simpler truth.

"There was a lot of death," he said yesterday. "I lost half my guys. What more is there to know?"

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