Jammed shoulder to shoulder in amphibious landing craft No. 418, hardened Army Rangers sang "Happy Anniversary" as they crossed the English Channel in the D-Day invasion of Normandy.
It was June 6, 1944, Sgt. Walter Geldon's third wedding anniversary.
Within seconds of hitting Omaha Beach, 23-year-old Geldon was dead.
Gone, but not forgotten.
On Sunday, 60 years to the day after he died, Geldon's three brothers and sister -- all Bethlehem residents in their 80s and 90s - - mourned at the fallen soldier's grave in Ss. Cyril & Methodius Cemetery, Bethlehem.
Six decades had not erased the Geldon family's sense of loss. As if the clock had slipped back to World War II, they gathered on a hilltop to bid farewell to a loved one lost overseas.
"It's still sad," sighed Helen Geldon Dozer, 87, Walter's sister. "You never really get over it."
Walter Geldon was in the first platoon of Company C, 2nd Ranger Battalion.
Steven Spielberg based the gruesome introduction to the movie "Saving Private Ryan" on the Ranger battalion, one of the first to hit the beaches on D-Day.
One-third of the company was killed, another third wounded on the blood-soaked sands of Omaha Beach.
John Lamana of Bethlehem Township says Geldon, his great-uncle, was the only Lehigh Valley soldier in the 2nd Ranger Battalion.
"Walter was suddenly and violently taken from us," recalled the Rev. Wayne Killian, Catholic chaplain at Lehigh University, who officiated graveside. "He gave his life for freedom and democracy."
Frank Geldon, 91, held arm in arm by his brother Joe, 85, laid a wreath the shape of an Army Ranger patch at his brother's headstone.
On the stone, beneath red, white and blue carnations, was a color photograph of Sgt. Geldon in his Ranger uniform. Next to it, where Anna's name is engraved, was the couple's wedding portrait. She remarried and lived in New Jersey, but was buried beside her soldier when she died at age 78 in 2002.
The 40 people who attended the service bowed their heads in silence to the Polish hymn, "Serdeczna Matko," an ode to the Blessed Mother.
The honor guard from American Legion Post 397 in Hellertown fired a three-shot volley over the grave. A baby cried. The bugler's taps echoed over the cemetery, evoking the solemn image of rows of white crosses in Normandy.
Man of Steel
Walter Geldon quit school in 10th grade to take a job at Bethlehem Steel, where he polished 16-inch artillery guns destined for U.S. battleships.