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Tom Hanks marks D-Day anniversary

Tom Hanks
Hanks is fascinated by World War II  

UTAH BEACH, France -- Actor Tom Hanks has spent the 57th anniversary of D-Day landings on Utah Beach in France.

The star of "Saving Private Ryan" was in Normandy on Wednesday to premiere the first two episodes of a 10-part mini-series he has co-produced with director Steven Spielberg.

It was 57 years ago that allied forces surprised Adolph Hitler with an invasion of Europe across the widest part of the English Channel, instead of the narrowest, in rough weather.

The Normandy invasion was the greatest amphibious landing in history. It involved 156,000 allied soldiers from 12 countries and signalled the beginning of the end of the nazi regime.

The battle resulted in nearly 10,000 allied dead and wounded.

The U.S. military

Hanks said: "When I was growing up, the war was part and parcel of who we were. Everybody's father had been in the war. To me, it's a never-ending source of fascination."

The mini-series "Band of Brothers" is based on historian Stephen Ambrose's non-fiction book, "Easy Company," about the U.S. Army's 506th Regiment of the 101st Airborne Division.

It follows an elite group of U.S. paratroopers from their training base in Georgia to their landing in France on D-Day.

It records their capture of Adolf Hitler's Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden, Germany, and the occupation of Zell am See in Austria.

"This is not something that is neatly wrapped up in three hours," Hanks told the Associated Press.

"At the end of 'Band of Brothers,' you get the sense ... that these guys had to go back to being cleaners and postal workers and construction workers."

• National D-Day Memorial Foundation
• Tom Hanks Filmography

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