PORTLAND, OR (KPTV) - This week, the world remembers D-Day.

It has been 75 years since the historic invasion and on Friday a D-Day veteran from Olympia got a special opportunity.

He came down to Portland to ride the same World War II boat that escorted the fleet week arrivals earlier this week.

It's a rare piece of history and for navy veteran, James Gardner, it's the same kind of ship that saved his life.

This is the first time Gardner has hit the water on a PT boat since D-Day, the invasion that turned the tide of World War II.

The 95-year-old lived history serving on a ship that hit a mine.

Gardner was thrown into the water and later rescued by a PT boat just like one he's on now.

“Back there is where they laid my soggy butt aboard,” Gardner said.

112 men were on board Gardner’s minesweeper, he's among 83 who survived.

Unlike Gardner, this PT boat never saw combat.

PT 658 was headed for Europe when the war ended and is now the most authentically restored PT boat in the world.

Its skipper said the PT was a hot ticket in its day.

“They started off being kinda secret so alot of people in the navy didn't even know about PT boats. The guys that did hear about them wanted to be on them, cuz this is fast, lot a guns and pretty cool,” Skipper LOWELL Gillespie said.

Cruising down the Willamette, 75 years later, Gardner had the chance to actually take the helm.

Garnder told FOX 12 the ride was fantastic and an opportunity he really appreciates.

“This was on my bucket list,” he said.

He said it didn't bring back bad memories, just his passion as a life-long mariner.

“I, I love the water,” Gardner said.

The PT 658 and its museum are located on Swan Island.

The skipper said veterans are always welcome to come take a ride.

Copyright 2019 KPTV-KPDX Broadcasting Corporation. All rights reserved.

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