U.S Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, talks with Charles Shay, a 104-year-old survivor of the D-Day invasion from Indian Island during a 75th anniversary event in Normandy. Credit: Photo courtesy of U.S. Sen. Susan Collins' office

OMAHA BEACH, France — Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins and independent U.S. Sen. Angus King are in France for the 75th anniversary of the allied invasion of France in World War II.

They’re part of an official Senate delegation that’s participating in a French government event at the American cemetery Thursday.

The Maine senators also met U.S. World War II veterans who made the trip to France for the occasion, including Maine World War II veteran Charles Shay from Indian Island.

[D-Day veteran from Maine returns to Normandy for 75th anniversary]

“He was a medic who risked his own life by repeatedly going back into the water to rescue wounded and drowning soldiers. For his heroism, he was awarded a Silver Star,” Collins said of Shay. “When I talked to Charles today, I called him a hero. He replied: ‘I am not a hero; I was just doing my job. The real heroes are those who are in that cemetery.’”

Nearly 160,000 Allied troops landed in Normandy on June 6, 1944, part of a successful effort to free France from German occupation. More than 4,400 Allied troops, including 2,501 Americans, died on that day.

Madawaska native Scott Desjardins is the current superintendent of the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial.

Related: WWII veteran Ted Converse recalls being shot down over Europe

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